Oregon Fishing Report for March 17

Willamette Valley/Metro – Turbidity levels on the Willamette remain at good levels, allowing the spring Chinook fishery on the mainstem to prosecute. Effort has been on the increase, and out of 1,658 angler trips, 23 springers were retained, and another 12 were released. Low success rates aren’t uncommon for this time of year, but a 66% mark rate (hatchery fish) is. Wild fish are making an uncommonly strong showing for this early in the season, that is likely to change. Sturgeon fishing remains best downstream of downtown Portland.

Columbia River salmon anglers are also starting to find some springers destined for the upper basin. These fish are often discernable by dark blotchy skin on their chins and underbellies. Still weeks away from peak migration, a third springer has finally bypassed Bonneville Dam. An angler’s best chance remains downstream of St. Helens, where Willamette bound springers are also likely to show.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service reports, the Sandy River is starting to slow for hatchery steelhead, and fair numbers of spring Chinook likely won’t show for many more weeks. The upper reaches, particularly around Cedar Creek will continue to offer up the best chances for a late hatchery fish. Wild steelhead, and some large ones, will not dominate the catches on this system.

The Clackamas is producing slow, but steady results. Fish are well distributed throughout the system but despite entering the peak season for this river, effort remains low which is indicative of success rates. River levels bumped again at mid-week, but should provide good opportunity by the weekend.

The Association of Northwest Steelheader’s 3rd annual Family Fish Camp was a success at Camp Angelos, and interested newcomers will have many different options to recreate under guidance from ODF&W in the coming weeks. The next family fishing event will take place in Canby Pond on April 7th. Search “Workshops and events” at www.myodfw.com.

Northwest – Steelheaders working the top two Tillamook systems (Wilson and Nestucca Rivers) continue to pull some nice hatchery broodstock fish from the district. Quality wild steelhead are also available in most north coast streams and a continuation of good water conditions should allow for good success rates for the upcoming week. The Nehalem should also be a good option, especially as other systems become lower and clearer with the forecasted weather pattern.

Surf perch fishing is turning on along many coastal beaches and is a great way to introduce newcomers to a productive fishery. Anglers must use extreme caution however, using proper safety gear as sneaker waves can be a hazard.

Jetty anglers are finding good success targeting nearby lingcod this time of year, with some reaching over 30 inches in length. The ocean was calm last week, allowing easy access to ample numbers of lingcod and seabass over nearshore reefs. Ocean and estuary crabbing has been challenging. Offshore anglers will have access to the all-depth fishery until the end of the month.

An aggressive trout stocking schedule begins in many lakes across the district this week, in preparation for spring break. You can check stocking schedules from the ODF&W web site.

Razor clam digging was pretty good for the very few that went digging at mid-week. The tides don’t have to be minus to get a limit, it just sounds better.

Southwest – From ODF&W 

Bottom Fishing

This last weekend provided some phenomenal ocean conditions allowing many anglers to get out for some bottomfish fishing. Lingcod limits were easy to come by, with reports of some larger males being caught relatively shallow. Rockfish limits have been taking a little more work, with many anglers reporting success. Other species showing up on bottomfish trips include kelp greenling, with some petrale sole mixed in.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.

Pete Heley from PeteHeley.com writes “As Winchester Bay’s offshore bottomfish season approaches its seasonal closure (the last day is March 31st), the fishing continues to be almost unbelievable.”

Galesville Reservoir is scheduled to get 2,000 trout this week, including 50 lunkers that at 7 to 15 pound as well as good numbers of trout from previous stockings.

Recent rains should make for some good fishing throughout the North Umpqua. The first confirmed catch of spring Chinook has been reported on the North Umpqua.

Winter steelhead fishing continues to be good in many rivers. Some hot spots include the Chetco, Elk and Illinois.

Eastern – Nothing from our friend Tim Moran this week, but we got this kind report from Hugh A. giving Tim some news for a change. Hugh writes, “Tim, I fished Billy Chinook on Sunday March 11. We were fishing Rapals and Herring. Boated 2 Bulltrout. One was 25 inches approx. 8 lbs. Released one at 20 inches. Both fish were caught with trolling herring and 8 inch protroll echip flasher. Thanks for your work!”

SW Washington – From WDF&W

I’m thinking maybe the reporter got furloughed this week? The WDFW report simply states:

Not hot but at least we sampled a couple fish.

235 salmonid boats and 218 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

Advertisements
Posted in Oregon Fishing, Oregon fishing reports | Tagged | Leave a comment

Oregon Fishing Reports for March 9th

Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Willamette River going off-color late last week, trollers river-wide have hung it up for a while, although turbidity levels are improving, but may go out again by the weekend. Spring Chinook action is on hold, although the river was clear enough to justify effort on Wednesday and Thursday. Catches were light, for anglers at least. Even the sea lions were having trouble catching fish, except for the one parked at the mouth of the Clackamas River.

Effort has shifted to the Columbia, but with the water temperature a few degrees colder than the Willamette, fish seem quite lethargic and unwilling to bite. Passage at Bonneville Dam remains what it was since early January, just 2 Chinook so far. Anchor anglers are working plugs in 10 to 12 foot of water, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack right now.

I’ll be presenting spring Chinook tactics to the Tualatin Valley Chapter of the Northwest Steelheaders tonight at the Meriwether National Golf Club in Hillsboro starting at 7:00 p.m. Come get your questions answered about this year’s run and techniques.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), O2BFISHN Guide Service reports, action on the Sandy River is starting to slow for winter steelhead. It’s been a fairly good season here this year but the wild run will start to dominate this system, well into early April. The river was low early in the week, but a warming trend will send the river up and it will likely color up when the low-level snow begins to melt.

Clackamas River anglers will face the same challenge by the weekend, when warmer weather begins to melt low-level snow pack, causing the river to rise and turn a bit off-color. It is peak season here however so targeting the slower water with bigger, brighter colors, especially if you’re plunking, could pay dividends. Action here should stretch well into April.

Trout stocking in local area lakes will begin to ramp up for spring break just a few weeks away. Trout are already going into some of the Northwest Regional lakes so check the ODF&W web site for more detailed stocking schedules.

Northwest – Despite ideal river conditions this weekend, Tillamook area streams produced just mediocre fishing results. Back to back freshets likely caused fish to run upstream last weekend as guides and anglers found it to be challenging fishing on the Wilson, Trask and Nestucca systems last weekend. We are in peak season however so fishing is likely to improve.

Smaller streams such as the North Fork Nehalem and Necanicum Rivers continue to put out late season wild fish, but with the hatchery run over on these systems for now, almost all fish caught will require release due to the likelihood they are wild and not fin-clipped.

Tillamook area streams are forecast to be in good shape for weekend anglers, the run should be improving this week.

Bottomfish anglers may get out on the water this week as the ocean swell and wind wave prediction looks to be favorable for those not getting enough white fish in their diets. Fresh Dungeness crab should also be readily available.

Tides moderate this weekend, making estuary crabbing a fair option although with all the fresh water this spring, most may be out to sea.

Southwest – From ODF&W 

Bottom Fishing

Anglers have been reporting slow rockfish bite the last couple of weeks. When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing can be good out of most ports. For larger lingcod, try fishing closer to shore instead of offshore, as a somewhat larger average size has been reported.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.

Fish Lake is now ice-free and fish up to 14-inches are being caught.

Winter steelhead fishing has picked up on the lower Rogue with good catches reported by both boat and bank anglers.

In the Coos basin, rivers are still running a little high, but are dropping into shape quickly. Is steelhead fishing on your weekend to-do list?

Look for prime steelhead fishing conditions on the Elk and Chetco rivers this weekend.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran

Prineville and Ochoco Reservoirs – With weather temps in the 60’s this weekend it should be prime fishing on both of these waters! Fish should be up near the surface so long line your offerings 100+ feet behind the boat.

Lake Billy Chinook – Bull Trout fishing is good in the Metolius and Deschutes arms.

Grande Ronde River – Water levels have dropped and Steelhead fishing is good throughout the river and up into the tributaries.

Crooked River – Flows are low but stable. Fishing is good with nymphs. Keep them small and use a small yarn indicator or a dry fly.

Metolius River – Afternoon BWO hatches are good! I always fish nymphs until I start to see some surface action. The weather this weekend should be great.

Prineville and Ochoco Reserviors – With weather temps in the 60’s this weekend it should be prime fishing  on both of these waters!  Fish should be up near the surface so long line your offerings 100+ feet behind the boat.  Paulina Peak Tackle flashers with a small spinner or hoochie tipped with worm or corn will draw strikes.  Fish some with a little weight, 1/2 to 3/4 OZ. and some with no weight.  Keep experimenting until you find what they works and then adjust your rods accordingly.  Still fishing with air injected worms is also deadly.

Lake Billy Chinook –  Bull Trout fishing is good in the Metolius and Deschutes arms.  Trolling and casting Rapalas is taking the most fish.  Most fish are running 18 to 20 inches but fish to 20 lbs are possible so make sure your leader is adequate!  Kokanee fishing is slow but improving.

Grande Ronde River – Water levels have dropped and Steelhead fishing is good throughout the river and up into the tributaries. Fly fishermen are taking fish on the swing as well as fishing nymphs and beads/egg fly patterns.  Spin fishermen should be focusing on beads and jigs under a bobber.

Crooked River – Flows are low but stable.  Fishing is good with nymphs.  Keep them small and use a small yarn indicator or a dry fly.  There should be some BWO and midge hatches in the early afternoon.  Fish size 20 and 22 to get these fish to strike.  Size is usually the key.

Metolius River – Afternoon BWO hatches are good!  I always fish nymphs until I start to see some surface action.  The weather this weekend should be great.  March browns should make a showing soon!  Stop in at the Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters to get your gear and the latest river info!

Punta Allen – Ascension Bay Mexico –  I just got back from an amazing trip to fish for Bonefish and tarpon.  Punta Allen is about 4 hours south of Cancun (mostly because it takes 3 hours to go the last 28 miles in a road that could best be described as bombed out airfield meets dry creek bottom.  Once we got there we stayed with Capt. Greg Rahe at Fishermen’s Lodge.  He’s a great host and a funny guy.  the accommodations are nice, the food is amazing (it was lobster season so it was lobster eggs Benedict for breakfast and grilled lobster for dinner) and each day when you return Carlos is waiting on the beach with a tray of fresh squeezed Margaritas!  We fished with our local guides Roger and Rosindo.  They were excellent guides- funny and patient and they humbled me with their casting abilities!  We caught dozens of Bonefish and hunted for Tarpon and Permit.  Wildlife abounds in this area of beautiful blue-green flats, mangroves and bays. We fished near several species of pink and white birds, iguanas and salt water crocodiles!  Truly a memorable trip – and if you’ve never hooked a Bonefish or Tarpon let me tell you it’s as exciting as fishing gets!  If anyone wants more info on this trip I’m happy to share all the contact info I have.

That’s all for now – Tight lines and good luck this weekend!

SW Washington – From WDF&W

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br downstream: 32 bank rods kept 1 steelhead. Upstream from the I-5 Br. – 53 bank rods had no catch. 96 boat rods kept 8 steelhead and released 2 steelhead and 1 cutt.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered four winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. All four fish were kept for hatchery needs and no other fish were released during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,120 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, March 5. Water visibility is eight feet and water temperature is 42.1 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Wind River from boundary line/markers upstream to the Hwy. 14 Bridge – Opens to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead March 16. Wind River from the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream to 400 feet below Shipherd Falls fish ladder – Closed to all fishing March 16-31. Opens to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead April 1.

Wind River – Daily limit is 2 hatchery Chinook or 2 hatchery steelhead or one of each. Barbed hooks may be used.

Drano Lake – Opens to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead March 16. Daily limit 2 hatchery Chinook or 2 hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Barbed hooks may be used. Expect fishing to start slowly at Wind River and Drano Lake as only 2 adult Chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam through Feb. 27.

Lower Columbia mainstem from Bonneville Dam downstream – During the first four days of March we sampled over 300 salmonid anglers (including 89 boat) with nary a spring Chinook and just a few wild steelhead released.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Oregon Fishing News for February 23

In other news:

Have you signed up for the Hook, Line and Sinker Tournament? Not only are conditions looking good, but you’ll be helping the Wilson River broodstock program too! Go to the web site and get ‘er done! Donations gladly accepted too!

Do you know anyone that wanted to learn how to fish as a family? There is still space available for the 3rd annual Family Fish Camp, where knowledgeable Steelheaders will teach interested families how to fish for various species in the Pacific Northwest. Not only will you learn that valuable skill, but how about a crack at some sizeable rainbow trout at the Camp Angelos camp? Check out the web site for all the details, but it’s always a great event when the Steelheaders are there to help!

Spring Chinook seasons are SET. Here they are:

Feb. 21, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set spring Chinook salmon seasons for the Columbia River today during a joint state hearing.

The lower Columbia River recreational spring Chinook season will take place from Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, April 7 from Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock, plus bank angling from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.

Above Bonneville Dam, the recreational Chinook season was set for Friday, March 16 through Monday, May 7, with the open area extending from Bonneville Dam upstream to the OR/WA border above McNary Dam. Only bank angling is allowed from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Tower Island powerlines.

The daily bag limit is two adult salmonids (Chinook, coho, or steelhead), of which only one may be a Chinook. Only adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) fish may be retained.

The 2018 seasons are based on a forecast of 248,500 spring Chinook returning to the mouth of the Columbia River. That forecast includes an expected 166,700 spring Chinook bound for areas upstream of Bonneville Dam. This year’s run prediction is slightly larger than last year’s actual return of 208,800 spring Chinook.

Columbia River spring Chinook seasons are driven by guidelines on the number of upriver-origin Chinook that can be killed; therefore, season dates can change during the season if/when guidelines are met. The lower Columbia recreational season will start with an upriver Chinook guideline of 7,157 fish. For the area from Bonneville Dam upstream to the OR/WA border, the recreational guideline is 954 Chinook. The area of the Snake River downstream of the WA/ID border has a guideline of 920 Chinook; seasons will be set by Washington at a later date.

On the Willamette River, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers are forecasting a return of 53,800 adult Chinook, which is up from last year’s actual return of 50,800. Fishing for hatchery spring Chinook is allowed seven days a week on the Willamette.

For more information, refer to Columbia River regulation updates at myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone and e-regulations for permanent regulations

The following is a summary of spring recreational fishing seasons, including those adopted at today’s meeting.

CHINOOK SALMON

Columbia River mouth to Bonneville Dam

Prior to March 1, permanent rules for Chinook salmon, as outlined in the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

From March 1 through April 7, boat fishing will be allowed seven days a week from Buoy 10 at the Columbia River mouth upstream to Beacon Rock, which is located approximately four miles below Bonneville Dam. Bank fishing will be allowed during the same timeframe from Buoy 10 upstream to the fishing deadline at Bonneville Dam.

The daily bag limit will be two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon (Chinook or coho) or adipose fin-clipped steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook. The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day in Oregon.

Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington border

Prior to March 16, permanent rules for Chinook salmon and steelhead, as outlined in the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

Effective March 16 through May 7, this area will be open to retention of adipose fin-clipped Chinook. Fishing for salmon and steelhead from a boat is prohibited between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines, which are approximately six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.

The daily bag limit will be two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon (Chinook or coho) or adipose fin-clipped steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook. The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day in Oregon.

Willamette River

Under permanent rules, the Willamette River remains open to retention of adipose fin-clipped adult Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead seven days a week.  The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day.

The use of barbed hooks is allowed when angling for salmon, steelhead, or trout in the Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls. From March 1 through August 15, 2018, use of two rods is allowed on the Willamette and Clackamas rivers with purchase of two-rod validation.

The bag limit on the Willamette below Willamette Falls is two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in combination. Above the falls, two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon and three adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be retained in the daily bag.

Posted in Oregon Fishing | Leave a comment

Oregon Fishing Reports for February 23rd

Willamette Valley/Metro – With a stable Willamette River comes an excited effort for spring Chinook in the Sellwood area. Sellwood is often one of the better early season producers and although a far cry from its historical significance, it has produced some spring Chinook in the last week. Small, red and green label herring remain the top option for trollers from Sellwood through the Portland Harbor. John Shmilenko (AKA “The Sultan of Sellwood”) got his second of the season on the 21st. Early season is underway.

With low freezing levels, the Willamette River looks to be a good option for weekend anglers. Keep in mind that we’re still months away from peak season, but spring Chinook elicit irregular excitement for the sheer quality of these fish. Tides do play a role in the Willamette, it’s best to target high tide if you can calculate the time correctly.

There may be some spring Chinook effort downstream of St. Helens, but bring a portable heater as the cold seems to penetrate anglers on the Columbia, and only 2 salmon have passed Bonneville Dam at this time. Most spring Chinook in the Columbia right now are destined for the Willamette system.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, steelheaders on the Sandy River continue to produce fair catches of steelhead in what most consider peak timing on this system. Fish have been recycled, but that activity will cease as the hatchery becomes engaged in meeting egg take goals. Steelhead are well distributed throughout the river system and both bank and boat anglers should have good access to them.

The Clackamas continues to produce mediocre results, but action has picked up in recent days. Following a recent river rise, the river is back in shape although anglers remain reluctant to recreate in the cooler air temperatures. Another rise is forecast by Saturday, but that is always subject to change. Hatchery steelhead will continue to run into May, but we’re entering peak season on this system as well.

Northwest – Foul weather is keeping some anglers from traveling the coast range, but steelhead are readily available on the Wilson and Nestucca systems. Although innovative anglers are producing the best results, bobber-doggers and side-drifters are working their standard drifts with some degree of success as well. River levels are fluctuating, but as peak season nears, so should the steelhead fishing. This is your last chance to register for this weekend’s Hook, Line and Sinker Tournament. The conditions look great, especially the warming trend, which should stimulate biting fish. There have been fish reported into the mid-teens from the Wilson recently, and broodstock collection is going well for this system.

The Nestucca in particular has come on strong in recent weeks. In lower flows, anglers should stick to the lower reaches, although steelhead are well distributed throughout the system right now. Plugs remain an effective tool, especially when the majority of anglers are sticking to drifting techniques. Lower flows call for smaller, more subtle offerings, such as single beads and jigs. Steelheader President Tom VanderPlaat scored 3 wild steelhead and 1 hatchery fish from First Bridge to Three Rivers on Friday of last week.

The Trask and Nehalem should also have fair numbers of fish, and weekend conditions, at least on Saturday, should prove productive.

Southwest – From ODF&W 

When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing has been good out of most ports. For larger lingcod, try fishing closer to shore instead of offshore, as a somewhat larger average size has been reported. The rockfish bite has been very slow out of Newport this past week, as per angler reports.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.

Weekend fishing opportunities

Fish Lake is now ice-free and fish up to 14-inches are being caught.

The middle Rogue River is in good shape and winter steelhead fishing should be good.

The mainstem Umpqua is a good choice for steelhead fishing; with water levels pretty low, anglers are having most success lower in the system.

Lake Selmac was stocked last week with 5,000 legal-size rainbow trout.

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

While the ODFW planted trout at many spots around Oregon for last weekend’s “Free Fishing Weekend”, they sure didn’t plant any trout around our area. Hopefully, there were fair numbers of stocked trout left from previous plants in some of the Florence-area lakes.

Before they “improved” the site, it showed that Loon Lake was slated to be stocked the last week of this month and Lake Marie was to be stocked the second week of March.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay, has suffered the least, “closure-wise”, and crabbing is still fair, but getting tougher for the dock crabbers.

Bottomfishing has been fair off of area jetties and boats venturing offshore to deeper reefs are still doing great for lingcod and fair to good for rockfish.

They are still catching some redtail surfperch off area beaches, but last week they were running small, and the occasional walleye surfperch even smaller.

I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s the best time to catch yellow perch at their maximum weight is now. By the first week of March, the spawn will be over and those chunky egg-laden female perch will, once again, have normal girths.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran: 

Prineville, Haystack and Ochoco Reservoir – All will fish well again after the weather warms….with temps in the teens and lower in spots fishing will be slow until the air temps get consistently above 40 degrees.

Grande Ronde River – The river is dropping and Steelhead are present but the cold temps are going to make it tough.

Metolius River- Air temps don’t affect this river as much because the water is always COLD! However, hatches won’t get going until the air temps rise so this river will fish best from 11am to 4pm.

South Twin Lake – I got a new report from my new friends at Central Oregon fishing report. They were at Twin on the 15th, 16th, and 17th and they did well fishing with crawlers off the bottom, power bait and trolling small flies and spinners.

SW Washington – No spectacular news for SW Washington district river systems. The Cowlitz is due to start seeing some later returning steelhead, but action remains subdued to date. There has been a spring Chinook caught, however.

Other systems such as the Kalama, Lewis, and Washougal remain relatively quiet for action and devoid of effort.

Although there won’t be a dipping season for smelt, some are likely in the system, although few are reporting tell-tale signs.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

Posted in Oregon Fishing, Oregon fishing reports | Tagged | Leave a comment

There are Many Wiser Than I

Just like a day on the water, if you pay attention, you can learn something every day, even stuck in a large meeting room full of a diversity of interests and representatives.

I attended the first (hopefully annual), Roadmap to the Outdoors Symposium sponsored by many great companies, agencies and organizations. It’s really dealing with a 21st century crisis, how to get more people invested in Oregon’s outdoors. There were many powerful speakers present, including Governor Brown, and former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, all talking about a way for Oregonians to sustainably enjoy all that we have to offer in the best state of the union. Sure, call me bias as a life-long Oregonian.

Following an evening at the theater (yea, as if I’m cultured…) watching Part 2 of the production Astoria, I think the most profound speaker was Chairwoman Cheryle Kennedy of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. As if the extensive history lesson in the play wasn’t enough on Valentine’s Day, I got another lesson in Native American culture at the symposium the day after. I’ve been at rallies before with members from various tribes, but like lessons learned on the water, it takes more than once to drill some valuable lessons into my pea-brain.

Some take-away’s from the Chairwoman’s talk:

  1. Native Americans don’t think about just their children and grandchildren, they “manage” their natural resource for the next seven generations. On that note,
  2. Native Americans have lived in harmony with the fish and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest and salmon, big game, water, roots and berries have sustained their people for 10,000 years. We’ve managed to plunder these same resources in just 200 years.
  3. I can no longer speak with pride the fact that I’m a sixth generation Oregonian, since Chuck Sams of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla is a 500th generation Oregonian. I off of a sudden don’t have any street credibility.
  4. Tribal folks don’t use PowerPoint presentations or speak from their notes like this paleface. They draw their words from the heart and it comes across more authentic than any words I can put to paper.

It was pretty inspiring day, bringing together a cross-culture of people with one collective goal, creating the next generation of conservationists, so Oregonians from all walks of life have an opportunity to enjoy the natural resource treasures that many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come across that have told me about the fishing they enjoyed in the good ‘ol days. I know you have too.

Most of us realize we may never see the good ‘ol days again, but we’ve learned from our mistakes. As I’ve written about before, we’ve gone through the decline of halibut, salmon, steelhead, bottomfish, trout and crab, but managers manage and have done a good job of rebounding these resources before they reached critically low levels. Will the East Coast ever see a rebound of their historic Atlantic salmon runs? Probably not. We still have something to fight for here on the Pacific Coast, and hopefully learned from the lessons from the east side of the country.

Well, it’s actually happening again. There’s still some bad initiatives navigating Congress that while prioritizing the economics of the resource (read: a more fair sportfishing allocation), compromises the rebuilding of the species, as in red snapper. It’s easy to dismiss this as a Gulf Coast initiative that really doesn’t have a lot to do with us here on the West Coast, but federal law is federal law. Any amendments to the Magnuson Stevens Act must be carefully vetted and well thought out before any amendments can be made, especially since the current version of MSA has brought us back from the brink of perpetual rock-bottom in just 20 years.

The last time, every previous reauthorization of MSA as a matter of fact has been a bi-partisan effort. Although the law is only 40 years old, has politics in our country changes so much that a bi-partisan effort is just no longer an option? It doesn’t matter if your Democrat, Republican or Independent, our coastal communities and sport and commercial fishermen deserve a future, and even seven generations later, they too deserve a future. Do we really want to be known as the generation that pushed us towards the world’s sixth greatest extinction? Count me out.

I look forward to getting out on my next fishing excursion. I’m particularly excited about bottomfishing again when the seas finally lie down. It might be wise for me to lay off my lucky streak for 2018. I’ve had a limit day of lingcod, sea bass and Dungeness crab, and a 4 steelhead day on the Wilson so far. Why risk that good of a start?

Another recruit: Allison Dobscha with her first ever steelhead from the Clackamas River on February 13th. Steelheader Tim Wilson took Allison to the good spot!

Posted in Oregon Fishing | Leave a comment

Oregon Fishing Reports for February 17

This weekend (Feb. 17 & 18) is a Free Fishing Weekend. You won’t need a license, tag or endorsement to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. But remember, all other regulations and area closures still apply.

Willamette Valley/Metro – The big news has been what is likely the season’s first spring Chinook. It was taken at Sellwood Bridge on February 8th trolling a green label plug cut herring. The season’s first fish often comes from the Sellwood area, but then again, that’s where a lot of the effort takes place too. With Willamette River water conditions improving, anglers stand a chance at an early season fish, considered the prime rib of all salmon. February fish are of exceptional quality as they enter fresh water this time of year, and don’t spawn until August. They are so fat laden, they’ve been nicknamed “butter with scales.” More fish are sure to follow, especially with water clarity and flow looking stable for the foreseeable future.

The Columbia below Kelly Point Park also remains an option, but most fish in the mainstem are likely destined for the Willamette anyway. This system won’t kick in for another month at least. Seasons are likely to be set by next week.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, Steelheaders working the Sandy River continue to see dropping and clearing conditions. It’s peak season on this system right now, so employ low water tactics to stand out from the crowd. Fish should we well distributed throughout the system, with the best chance for hatchery fish downstream of Cedar Creek where hatchery fish veer off from the mainstem Sandy. Action should remain fair to good into the weekend.

It’s time for the Clackamas to become more consistent. If the run is going to materialize, this should be a good week to find out. Like the Sandy, fish should be well distributed throughout the system, but the highest effort will take place below Barton Park. Plugs should become more effective as flows drop. Action will only get better into early March.

Northwest – The 3rd annual Hook, Line and Sinker tournament sponsored by the Association of Northwest Steelheaders will take place February 24th in Tillamook. The steelhead derby benefits the broodstock program in Tillamook County with fantastic prizes awarded. Go to https://nwsteelheaders.org/  to register.

With dropping flows, comes more challenging conditions. Anglers working the Wilson did well early last week, but the bite has become sporadic recently, with the consistently clearing water conditions. Anglers working the lower reaches are finding the better success, with a good mix of broodstock and wild steelhead starting to show.

The Nestucca has good numbers of fish available, with anglers finding success working the lower reaches of this river as well. Plugs become more effective in the dropping flows, but bobber dogging is still producing good catches for aggressive anglers getting first water. Fish are well distributed here, but the better biting fish will be found downstream of First Bridge near Beaver.

The mainstem Nehalem and Trask will remain top prospects for those seeking more solitude and catch and release options. As long as heavy rainfall stays away, these two rivers will fish well.

The Siletz fished fairly well earlier this week. Angler numbers remain somewhat sparse, but that will likely change in the coming weeks. The Alsea has mostly spent early returning fish.

Although saltwater anglers got a small window of opportunity over the weekend, seas roughen up again this week so bottomfish will likely again be off the table for weekend anglers. Commercial crabbers are doing well in the ocean, but sport crabbers should still find fair success in the north coast estuaries.

Southwest – From ODF&W 

Winds and waves cooperated this last weekend allowing some anglers to get out onto the ocean; limits of lingcod were reported to be easy to catch, with rockfish limits a bit harder to come by.

BOTTOM FISHING
When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing has been good out of most ports. For larger lingcod, try fishing closer to shore instead of offshore, as a somewhat larger average size has been reported. The rockfish bite has been very slow out of Newport this past week, as per angler reports.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.

Fish Lake is now ice-free and fish up to 14-inches are being caught.

The middle Rogue River is in good shape and winter steelhead fishing should be good.

Conditions in the Coos and Coquille continue low and clear – a good time for small presentations and a stealthy approach. Some steelhead stacked in tidewater and lower rivers, awaiting the next rain to move upstream.

Coos County beaches have been giving up redtail surfperch when the surf conditions allow.

The mainstem Umpqua is a good choice for steelhead fishing; with water levels pretty lower, anglers are having most success low in the system.

Lake Selmac will be stocked this week with 5,000 legal-size rainbow trout.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran: 

Prineville, Haystack, and Ochoco Reservoir – Are all good winter/early spring/ fishing spots. Bank fishing with nightcrawlers or power bait is effective as is trolling from a boat or kayak. Trolling with a flasher and a worm or small spinner/worm combo will produce fish.

Grande Ronde River – The river has dropped to about 4000 cfs but fishes better at half that size. The fish are there so with lower freezing levels fishing should be good soon.

Crooked River – The river is holding at 60 cfs. which should make for good fishing. Small nymphs near the bottom should produce.

The Deschutes River – Fishing on the Deschutes was good last weekend with the nice weather. Trout were still in the seams and deeper soft water where nymph fishing was the key to success. This is a good time of year to fish a heavy stonefly below a smaller fly like a pheasant tail.

South Twin Lake – I got a report from my new friends at Central Oregon fishing report. They were at Twin yesterday and reported that fishing was slow – a few bites but no fish landed.

Changing gears just a little – Last week I went out fishing on the Humptulips River on the Olympic Peninsula with Jim Babcock of Olympic Waters Guide Service. We were recommended to Jim from another guide that a friend had used who was full. The fishing was a little tough but we managed 4 steelhead and several cutthroat trout. Jim worked tirelessly to get us on fish and he was knowledgeable, gregarious and just a joy to fish with. He’s lived and fished most of his life on the river and even showed us several places where we could bank fish and gave us directions to find his bank spots. He was a true sportsman and a credit to his profession.

SW Washington – Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br. downstream: 35 bank rods kept 1 steelhead. Upstream from the I-5 Br: 22 bank anglers released 1 steelhead and 1 adult coho. 14 boats/40 rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook and 8 steelhead and released 1 steelhead and 1 cutthroat.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 Br. downstream – Water looks prime for salmon fishing but just 18 boats and 73 bank rods were tallied during last Saturday’s flight.

Washington only creel checks: 

Sec. 4 (Vancouver) bank – 2 salmonid anglers had no catch. 

Sec. 5 (Woodland) bank – 9 salmonid anglers had no catch. 

Sec. 6 (Kalama) bank – 2 salmonid anglers had no catch. 

Sec. 8 (Longview) bank – 2 salmonid anglers released 1 steelhead.  Sec. 8 boat – 1 boat/1 salmonid angler had no catch. 

Sec. 9 (Cathlamet) bank – 1 salmonid angler had no catch.

John Day Pool – No effort was observed for steelhead.

Sturgeon

John Day Pool – Closed for sturgeon retention through the rest of this year.

Walleye and Bass

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged over 3 walleye kept/released per rod.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

Posted in Oregon Fishing, Oregon fishing reports | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oregon Fishing Reports for February 10

Willamette Valley/Metro – Although the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show will take front and center next week, steelhead fishing on the metro rivers is heating up. It’s peak season time for the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers, and it will only get better into February.

Sandy River anglers seem to still be faring the best, with good fishing reported from Cedar Creek to Oxbow Park. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, “Some fish are being recycled, but sea lion predation remains a factor on this river. River levels are expected to continue to drop, making for an ideal weekend for prime time steelheading. Anglers should drop down the size of their offerings as waters drop and clear and hardware should become more effective as fish slow their migration when flows recede.”

Clackamas River steelheaders should be coming into their prime for the next 3 weeks. As predicted, Eagle Creek fish never showed as all of the systems “eggs” went into mainstem steelhead production. Anglers should see the fruits of that strategy well into March. As flows drop, migration will slow, making the lower reaches the more productive option well into next week.

Meldrum Bar plunkers should also start to see a resurgence in action. Flows remain high, but the Willamette is clearing and there may even be some spring Chinook effort at Sellwood by the weekend. Sturgeon fishing will remain good in the Portland Harbor, especially with warm temperatures in the forecast.

With warmer weather comes thoughts of spring Chinook. Reliable action is still 6 weeks away but anglers will likely show up in force at this week’s Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show.

Meet up with me in the KastKing booth (booth 277) to learn what our strategy was for a productive day on the Wilson River on Monday, and put in for the drawing for a free rod. Thirty rods will be given away over the course of the show.

Northwest – It’s full-on steelhead season for Tillamook County anglers. Following a good week of steelheading last week, action on the Wilson, Trask and Nestucca has also been productive this week. There are a mix of fresh broodstock steelhead and some spent early season fish on the Wilson, with the lower reaches producing the best catches in the dropping flows. Bobber-doggers were flogging the water hard with fairly consistent results early in the week. As flows drop and clear into the weekend, anglers will have to get more innovative to inspire fish that have been worked over fairly hard all week.

The Trask has also recently produced some quality wild fish exceeding 15 pounds. Effort is lighter here, but fish are bigger, and there are a few stray hatchery fish here too. The upper reaches are a bank angler’s dream with good public access for much of the upper watershed.

The Nestucca system is just getting underway with catches improving this week. It should be a productive month on this system for quality broodstock steelhead.

A calming ocean produces good bottomfishing catches this week, but crabbing has certainly suffered since the commercial fleet went in. It should still be worth the effort if you have fresh bait to entice the crustaceans.

Southwest – From ODF&W outdoor report: 

Bottom Fishing
When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing has been good out of most ports. For larger lingcod, try fishing closer to shore instead of offshore, as a somewhat larger average size has been reported.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

Vessels fishing for or retaining bottomfish (including flatfish) species are required (1) to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and (2) use it to descend any rockfish released when fishing outside of the 30-fathom regulatory line.

The Applegate and Illinois rivers continue to be in prime shape for winter steelhead fishing.

The middle Rogue River is in good shape and winter steelhead fishing should be good.

Conditions in the Coos and Coquille are low and clear – a good time for small presentations and a stealthy approach.

Steelhead fishing also should be good on the Umpqua.

Lost Creek Reservoir is a winter trout fishing hot spot in the Rogue Valley.

From our friend Pete Heley: 

According to Bryan Gill, of “The Umpqua Angler”, fishing on “Tenmile Reef” out of Winchester Bay continues to be very, very good for lingcod of large average size with exceptional fish taken on almost every trip.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announce the closure of razor clamming from the south jetty of the Umpqua River, at Winchester Bay, to the south jetty of Coos Bay due to elevated levels of the marine toxin domoic acid. As a result, the recreational harvesting of razor clams is closed from Cascade Head, north of Lincoln City, to the California border.

Razor clamming remains open from the Columbia River to Cascade Head.

It’s free to fish, crab or clam on the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 17-18, so take a friend!

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran: 

Prineville Reservoir – Fishing is holding up and with this warm weather it should stay good. Trout are being caught all over the lake with some in the 20 to 25-inch class. Bank fish with night crawlers or power bait. Don’t be surprised if you get the occasional bull head cat too.

Grande Ronde River – The river is loaded with fish but is too high to fish as if this writing. Look for the GRR to pop in the next few weeks if/when the water drops.

Metolius is very good. Crooked is good on small nymphs with some later afternoon midge hatches bringing fish up to the top. Fall River is interesting with how good the morning dry fly fishing is with tiny little black stones.

Longhollow Ranch (private lake access) is open and The Fly Fisher’s Place is running a $100 special for all day from 9 am to 4 pm (or a little later if you want). 30 minutes from Sisters and plenty of nice rainbows to give you a tug! Typical desert lake flies, leeches, Chironomids, scuds and water boatman. I have fished this before and it is worth the $$. The lake also has largemouth bass in them.

SW Washington – Anglers are reporting improving conditions for steelheaders on the Cowlitz and other local area rivers, after a long period of high water conditions. Catches remain a bit slow, but improving. Action should continue to get better in the coming weeks.

From WDF&W:

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – Creel sampling data is currently unavailable.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered nine coho adults, three cutthroat trout, and 14 winter-run steelhead during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released three coho adults and two winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa near Randle. They released two coho adults into the Cispus River located near Yellow Jacket Creek in Randle. Tacoma Power also released three cutthroat trout and five winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. The Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood currently is damaged due to recent high water. Repairs are onging and the release site should be useable soon.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 14,200 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, February 5. Water visibility is five feet and water temperature is 44.1 degrees F.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 Br. downstream – 2 bank anglers in the Vancouver area had no catch.

Bonneville and John Day pools – No effort was found for steelhead.

Sturgeon

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 3.6 rods. No legals were sampled from bank anglers. Through Jan. 28, almost half of the 325 fish guideline had been taken. All sturgeon must be released until further notice.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers caught a few legals. Fishing was slow from the bank. Sturgeon may be retained through Sun. Feb. 11.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – The few boat anglers sampled averaged a handful of walleye kept per rod. No effort was observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged just over 2 walleye per rod. No effort was observed for bass.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

Posted in Oregon Fishing, Oregon fishing reports | Tagged | Leave a comment