Willamette Valley/Metro – Steelhead are consistently getting caught at Meldrum Bar on the Willamette River. Anglers plunking spin-n-glows from the bank are getting fish right along with the small core of back trollers running plugs at the blacktop and along the island. Decent sturgeon fishing was also reported from the Portland Harbor but effort remains low. The bump in temperature will likely spur boat anglers to get out and try this coming weekend. Few, if any sturgeon anglers have been hitting the Columbia River with last week’s cold snap.
The Clackamas River produced this past week with decent catches of fresh winter steelhead. The upper stretches from Carver upstream to McIver Park are getting the most attention and recent rains will likely introduce more fresh fish into the system. Although a few steelhead have been taken from Eagle Creek, the catch remains sporadic at best.
Sandy River fishermen had a good week, with many boats reporting 2-6 steelhead for a day’s drift. Sleds on the lower river haven’t fared quite as well, but they are still in the game. Bank anglers are getting their share too at Oxbow and Dodge Parks. The catch has been about 50/50, wild to hatchery fish but nobody’s complaining as long as they are catching. This week’s rain will push it out of shape for most anglers, but it should be back in fishable order by the weekend with a shot of fresh fish.
While McKenzie levels had been dropping over the past week, it has started rising to unfishable levels.
On the rise but predicted to be dropping in to the weekend, the South Santiam produced a few steelhead over the past weekend.
Northwest – After a short reprieve from rainfall, north coast rivers are once again on the rise, making smaller streams an option again after experiencing low and clear conditions over the weekend. Hatchery workers on the North Fork of the Nehalem reported over 500 fish in the trap on Tuesday morning but stated fishing was poor for anglers working the water near the hatchery. Boaters also reported poor results downstream of the hatchery on Tuesday. The river was on the rise.
The Necanicum and Highway 30 streams should once again be options although the bulk of the fish anglers are likely to come across will be in a darker condition. Although fresh early run fish should continue to come in for another week, the next pulse of fresh fish on these systems likely won’t be until late February, and they will largely be wild.
Larger systems, particularly the Wilson, fished well last Friday, after a short period of low productivity as we transition from early run to late run steelhead. One guide reported double-digit opportunities last Friday, fishing downstream of Donaldson’s Boat Ramp. A mix of spent early run fish and a rare fresh broodstock or early run steelhead exists this time of year.
The Trask River should start to see better returns of wild fish in the coming weeks. The Dam Hole is an excellent place to intercept fish in higher flows but boaters have good access in the upper reaches in higher flows and downstream of the hatchery is dropping conditions.
A minus tide series graces the coast over the weekend which is typically good for sturgeon anglers. The problem is, low slack happens well after sunset, traditionally the best time to target estuary keepers in Tillamook Bay.
Crabbing will likely be challenging, no matter what estuary you try. The swell is expected to moderate which could bode well for razor clam diggers along Clatsop Beaches.
Southwest– When boats have been able to get out of central Oregon ports recently, catches of rockfish and lingcod have been good to excellent.
Crabbing in most coastal bays and estuaries has been productive, producing limits or near limits of hard Dungeness. Mussel harvest is closed coast wide although scallops may still be taken.
Water levels are rising on the Umpqua system this week. Steelheaders might consider the lower South Umpqua once the water starts to drop and clear.
The Coos River, which has been running low, clear and cold, will be rising this week. Steelheaders should see some improvement as the water drops.
Steelheading on the lower South Fork Coquille has been good at times.
Steelheading has been good on the lower Rogue over the past week for boat and bank anglers. Best results have been very low on the river. Most of the winters hooked have been natives with only small percentage of hatchery origin. Winter steelheading is just getting underway on the middle Rogue.
Plug-pullers are doing best on the Chetco River, taking decent numbers of chrome-bright winter steelhead.
Steelheaders have been taking fish on the Elk and Sixes where the window of opportunity is usually brief as conditions change rapidly on these small, volatile rivers. The Elk was low and clear early this week.
Eastern – Fly fishing for redsides is worthwhile on the lower Deschutes with Blue-Winged Olives the primary pattern of interest although midges and small caddis patterns work at times. Steelheading remains slow.
Rainbows on the Crooked River have been cooperating with anglers this week, often taking dries although nymphs have been effective at times.
SW Washington– District streams are on the down-slide with most streams starting to show more spent fish than fresh ones. Anglers in this district will be waiting for the later returning broodstock fish, expected later in February.
Limited success was reported on the Washougal, Lewis and Kalama Rivers with the most effort remaining on the Cowlitz. Like NW Oregon streams, rivers in this district will witness a bump in the hydrograph but smaller streams may fish once again by the weekend. Some fresh fish are likely to show.
4 boat anglers reported 3 keeper sturgeon targeting them near the mouth of the Kalama River. Sturgeon historically gathered in this area in anticipation of a once-abundant smelt run that returned to the Cowlitz River this time of year. Smelt may indeed be in the mainstem Columbia right now but may not be retained by the sport or commercial fisherman.