Oregon fishing report for 3/21/14

Willamette Valley/Metro – Anglers are getting back on the mainstem Columbia in anticipation of an ample spring chinook run that has yet to show. Cold, high water has slowed migration but it’s time to start seeing increasing catch rates and action in the Kalama area is starting to improve. Herring trollers are starting to show at Davis Bar and although action still won’t peak for a few more weeks, nets should start to fly on a more regular basis. Commercial test netting on Sunday showed a higher incidence of steelhead than spring chinook and more Willamette bound chinook than upper Columbia bound salmon.

Water conditions are starting to improve on the Willamette and catches should too. The Sellwood area is likely to be a hot spot but the head of the Multnomah Channel and Oregon City should start to see action as well. Herring produces best in the colder flows.

McKenzie River levels are high but dropping this week. With dry weather in the forecast, fly anglers should be able to find some fishable riffles and runs by the weekend.

Water level, flow and color will be good on the Santiams for the coming weekend. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of fish in the system. With summer steelhead starting to enter, hopefully that will change in the months to come.

The Sandy and Clackamas steelhead fisheries are improving and the test fishery in the mainstem Columbia indicate there are many more to come. More hatchery fish than wild ones were caught in the test fishery so those broodstock fish are going to make a showing. Steelhead should be well distributed throughout both of these systems but the lower reaches will likely produce the more aggressive biters as they will have just entered the system.

Large numbers of smelt have been spotted in the Sandy River. Saturday, March 22nd is the last day sport dippers can participate and it’s only open from 6:00 a.m. until noon. If you don’t own a dip net, one may be available for rent in the Troutdale area from a local retailer.

Northwest – Steelheaders have had great river conditions to take advantage of late returning wild and broodstock steelhead. The Wilson and Nestucca remain the top targets with both systems producing consistent catches this week. Most anglers would classify this season as sub-par but with peak season upon us, this is the time to go. The lower reaches of the Wilson and Nestucca will likely start to produce the better results, given the dropping water conditions and an improving tide series.

Smaller systems such as the Kilchis, Necanicum and Trask Rivers, will also produce the best in the lower reaches and catches will largely be comprised of wild fish.

Small side-drifted baits will always be a good option but drifted beads, jigs under bobbers and plugs will become more effective in the dropping flows.

The ocean forecast finally starts to look favorable by the weekend. Anglers have not had ocean opportunity for several weeks so lingcod and sea bass will be willing to bite when conditions allow.

Ocean and bay crabbing will be fair at best but the lower Columbia remains the best option. High tide exchanges will make estuary crabbing challenging and bar crossings hazardous.

Southwest- Prospects for bottom fishing are good at this time of year although offshore conditions have been mostly uncooperative. Wind and waves this week are unsettled although trending toward improvement on Saturday. Rockfish, lingcod and ocean crab await those who are able to launch safely.

Surf perch fishing is improving particularly near bay entrances and river mouths. Rock and jetty fishing will be productive anytime the ocean lies down with best results at slack tide, either high or low.

Steelheading is improving on the Umpqua as the water drops and clears this week. Fishing for hatchery winters is worthwhile on the South Umpqua where they’re hitting bait and a variety of lures.

Crabbing in Coos Bay should showed some improvement this week as salinity levels are returning to normal following the last freshet. Winter steelhead will be scattered on the Coos and Coquille Rivers.

As the lower Rogue River dropped into shape late last week, plenty of anglers hit the water, mostly targeting spring chinook although catches were light. It’s still considered quite early in the run for best results. Springer fishing will definitely improve into April and May. Grants Pass flows should be less than 5000 cfs by the weekend with side-drifters and drift-fishers scoring winter steelhead.

Flows from Lost Creek Reservoir have been reduced this week to 2,900 cfs; a far more fisher-friendly condition. Catches of winter steelhead in the upper Rogue have been fair to good and will continue to improve.

Chetco River flows are dropping and will have achieved low and clear conditions by the weekend to come. Winter steelhead are scattered although stealthy techniques will be required to hook them.

Springtime temperatures have kept the ice unsafe for anglers at Diamond Lake. With March 20th the first official day of spring, the ice-fishing season here may be over.

Eastern – Although the Deschutes is still a little high, water color is good and the level is dropping daily. Midges, Blue-Winged-Olives and Caddis are on the menu for redsides. Results for fly fishers has been fair.

The Metolius has dropped and is exhibiting good color this week. Blue-Winged-Olives have been observed hatching with trout responding accordingly.

Wallowa Lake is producing good numbers of kokanee, including some 40-fish limits although the majority are predictably small.

SW Washington- March 15th marked the closure of several tributaries in the district but mainstem rivers largely remain open for late season steelhead. The Cowlitz remains a top bet but the Kalama and Lewis may be options as well.

Spring chinook have been taken in the Cowlitz but consistent catches are still weeks away.

Bank anglers working beaches downstream of Vancouver will start to realize some results plunking spin-n-glos and herring from the bank. High flows push upriver migrating fish close to the beach, giving bank anglers a good opportunity to catch them.

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