Willamette Valley/Metro – Anglers anxious for a consumptive opportunity for sturgeon will be racing towards favored fishing spots above Bonneville Dam today. Action is likely to be good and effort intense, causing quick utilization of the winter quota in the coming weeks. The winter segment of this season lasts through January 19th with a daily bag limit of 1 keeper sturgeon between 38 and 54 inches to the fork of the tail, 2 keeper sturgeon per year.
McKenzie water levels have continued moderating in mostly dry weather with the flow dropping to 2,500 cfs at Vida. Catch-and-release winter trout fishing is slow to fair.
The Santiams get about 25% of the steelhead that cross Willamette Falls. With recent counts right around 200 and only single digits crossing daily, there aren’t enough fish in the North Santiam to target yet. It may be worthwhile to do so in February depending on water conditions and how run numbers stack up.
The Clackamas River has dropped down into great shape but anglers are not expending a lot of effort this early in the season. Some early season steelhead remain available below Barton to the mouth but most are awaiting the larger return later in February. Most anglers fishing this area opt for Meldrum Bar, just downstream of the mouth of the Clackamas, where mainstem Willamette steelhead are more plentiful this time of year.
After a period of high water on the Sandy, freezing levels have dropped and so have water levels. The lower flows are slowing what few steelhead exist in the river system, making the lower reaches downstream of Oxbow the most likely area to intercept early returning fish. Bobbers and bright colored jigs often work best under these conditions but small baits will produce results as well.
Northwest – Action for north coast steelhead remains subdued even though we’re officially in peak season for the early run. Low and clear water conditions haven’t helped anglers harvest fish but savvy anglers working small baits and bobbers and jigs or pink worms have done fairly well this week. River systems that receive the heaviest plants such as the North Fork Nehalem hold the greatest promise in higher flows, with consistent action off of the handicap platform each morning.
Big Creek and the Klaskanine, Necanicum, Wilson and Three Rivers remain the best prospects but with no significant rises in the river forecast in the coming week, action isn’t likely to improve all that much. Any change however will likely improve the bite somewhat and a slight rise is forecast for the weekend.
The Trask is likely to start seeing larger numbers of native steelhead but some anglers looking for late season chinook scored well last week. Chinook season closes on the north coast starting January 1st.
Clam diggers struggled on the great tides this week, largely due to a big surf that kept clams from feeding near the surface. Crabbers working the lower Columbia on high tide were still taking fair numbers of keepers last week. The lower Columbia will remain the best prospect for crabbers into the New Year.
The offshore forecast may hold promise for bottomfishers over the weekend. Lingcod remains the best bet but sea bass may come on the bite in the coming weeks.
Southwest- Boats launching out of Newport and Depoe Bay over the past weekend reported catches of rockfish, lingcod and crab had slowed.
Cabezon may no longer be retained as part of a rockfish limit as of January 1, 2014. The limit remains seven rockfish in the New Year and the lingcod limit of two per day, 22 inches or longer, same as 2013.
Winchester Bay has been slow for crabbing. When many rivers are running too low to fish well, the mainstem Umpqua can be a blessing for steelheaders. Fishing has been decent from Sawyers rapids and recently on the river above.
Lack of rain has maintained salinity levels in Coos Bay, resulting in fair to good results for crabbers. A minus tidal series will occur after dark if adventurous diggers want to take advantage of the excellent clamming available here.
Crabbers in the lower Coquille have been taking fair to good catches of Dungeness.
Low, clear, cold water is the story on the Rogue River where these conditions have stalled results for early winters in the lower river and kept them from running upriver to the Grants Pass stretch. While summer steelhead are being taken on the upper Rogue, they’re not in any condition to be considered keepers. Some fish taken recently had already spawned.
When boats have been able to slip out to the ocean just outside Brookings, jigging for rockfish has been good. Water levels are low and running cold in the Chetco and while a few winters are taking bait in the lower portions, it is challenging to get them to bite.
The year wrapped up as one of the driest ever in southwest Oregon. The Elk River levels remain low and optimism about the chinook run this season is plummeting to similar levels. Many local anglers are speculating if rain, when it comes, will be too little, too late. There’s still hope for a winter steelhead season here.
About five inches of ice covers Diamond Lake with few venturing out to cut holes and fish. Trout catches are slow as the fish are acclimating to winter conditions.
Eastern – Lower Deschutes anglers are taking a few redsides and far fewer steelhead. Overall, results have been slow. Caddis are the primary pattern of interest for fly fishers targeting trout.
Winter trout fishing has been worthwhile on the Metolius for those who can crack the code. Double nymph rigs have been effective.
Ice fishing is underway at Lake of the Woods where seven to nine inches of hard ice covering the surface is making it safer to walk on but watch out for thin spots at the edge. Trout and yellow perch are being caught.
SW Washington- The Cowlitz remains the top option for steelhead in the district but anglers should also find sporadic success on the Kalama and Washougal Rivers. The North Fork Lewis has a few fish also and should improve for wild fish in a few weeks.
Several regulation changes occur on January 1st so check regulations for the body of water that you fish.
Trout plants were strong on several lakes in mid-December and action should remain stable into the New Year.