Willamette Valley/Metro – The Bonneville pool is open for sturgeon retention through February 17th, No reports have come in as of yet, but the weather could get brutal through this weekend.
A couple rumors have surfaced of early season spring Chinook being taken from the Columbia and at the head of Multnomah Channel. One by a beach plunker and the other by a boat trolling red label herring out of Fred’s Marina. Nothing has been confirmed yet but the source of the “rumor” seems pretty reliable and after all, it is time for the madness to begin. Although frigid temperatures are slated for the next several days, catch and release sturgeon fishing on the Willamette River will be much easier than the “keeper” fishing on the Columbia above Bonneville dam. The fishing has been good with plenty of action to go around. Expect best fishing in the deep holes below the Broadway Bridge. Although, smelt, sand shrimp, roll mop herring and worms (yes worms !) will all get bit, frozen anchovies have been the favorite bait. A few late steelhead have been picked up at Meldrum Bar by both back-trollers and bank plunkers. It’s time to add some bait to your presentation as an early springer could be biting the next time a bell rings.
North Santiam flows are high enough to warn boaters to be extra cautious. There are a few natives around with numbers picking up mid-month. If this year’s run is decent, catch-and-release action will me best in March and April.
The McKenzie River has been dropping over the past week, but the next round of rainfall due in the coming weekend will be sending water levels in the wrong direction for best results.
The water is clearing up on the Clackamas River but the level is still good and on a very slow drop. The occasional report comes in of one or two steelhead being hooked but nobody is lighting it on fire. We are quickly approaching prime time for Clack winter steelhead, but they have yet to make a strong enough appearance that would indicate many are coming at all. Regardless, we have decent water conditions and there are a few fish to be had. Put your effort in above Riverside Park for the best opportunity.
For all purposes, Sandy River winter steelhead are M.I.A. The water is again approaching lower levels and the fish have been far and few between. Fishermen who put in their time are scoring every now and then between Dodge and Dabney Park.
Northwest – Crabbing on the Columbia River below Astoria has average at best. Sport crabbers are really having to work their pots to get a mess of keepers compared to previous seasons when the pickings were easy. Plan your trips during the smallest incoming tides.
Like the valley, the North coast streams have been less than stellar. The Necanicum has been merely a creek much of the season. Small pods of steelhead have been making their way upstream, but many have already spawned and are heading back to the sea. A small wild run shows up in Feb and March.
The big Nehalem is finally coming into shape from last week’s rain. By Thursday it should be in fishable shape above the falls. The water is low and on the North Fork Nehalem. Like the Necanicum that gets an early hatchery run of winter steelhead, most fish are down-runners this late in the game. The NF gets a small but nice run of late natives through March.
The Wilson gives up a fish or two every now and then with most being taken in the lower ten miles below Kansas Creek. Let’s hope the wild broodstock and the wild counterpart show up in better numbers in the next couple of weeks.
A few wild steelhead have been caught and released on the Trask, but pressure is very light this early in the season. Better times should be ahead as the wild fish show up in better numbers in Feb and march.
Nothing new on the Nestucca either. Small groups of fresh steelhead enter the river on most tides, but the fish appear to be sparsely scattered throughout the system. With the water dropping as it is, better conditions are offered in the river below Fourth Bridge.
Southwest – When boats have been able to get out for bottom fish, rockfish limits have been common and many took ling cod.
Crabbing has been poor to slow in Winchester Bay. Umpqua steelhead are hooking good numbers of Native steelhead with North Umpqua results somewhat slower. There are enough hatchery winters in the South Umpqua to make fishing there worthwhile. It should be good following rain forecast for coming week.
Coos Bay has continued to be a disappointment to crabbers. It’s the right time of year and little fresh water le flowing into the estuary. The Dungeness just aren’t there.
Fly fishers are doing as well as anyone in the low water of the Rogue River near Agness. A mix of adult and half-pounder steelhead are hitting flies as well as small spoons and spinners although results have only been fair. The rainfall anglers have been hoping for should start Saturday, February 9, and continue for several days thereafter. Steelheading has picked up a little in the Grants Pass stretch with boaters doing better than bank anglers. A few scrawny summers are being caught on the upper Rogue with winter fish few and far between.
Rockfish and ling cod catches were good earlier this week when the ocean cooperated and boats were able to fish just outside Brookings Harbor. Winter steelhead fishing has been decent in the Chetco River for those drifting cured eggs in deeper runs despite low water conditions. A 20-pound native was caught and released over the past weekend.
Eastern – It’s over for a while on the lower Deschutes. The time has come to seek fishes elsewhere.
Steelheaders on the Grande Ronde River are taking a few while clearing ice from the guides on their rods.
The Crooked River remains very low but trout fishing is worthwhile when midges are hatching.
Southwest Washington – It’s slow going for anglers in most southwest Washington anglers with the hatchery steelhead run winding down and the better wild steelhead fishery yet to come.
Cowlitz steelheaders are taking only the occasional winter.
Steelheading has been slow for boat and hank anglers on the Washougal.
February 17 will mark the close of spring Chinook fishing on some Washington rivers. From that date forward, no springers may be taken from the Lewis, North Fork Lewis or the Kalama from the mouth to the Kalama Falls Fish Hatchery due to low run numbers. Similarly, the Lewis will be closed to steelhead angling from Johnson Creek to Merwin Dam.
The WDFW is hoping to boost tourism and license sales with a new Great Getaways section of their website. See it here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/vacation/