The Sausage Grinder is Underway

Lobbyists often refer to the making of legislation as “sausage making.” How appropriate, given the start of our fall hunting seasons. Add a little pork shoulder here, beef fat there, and you have a palatable product fit for any finicky eater anywhere.

I may be going out on a limb here, but it actually appears as if Congress is making some sausage, finally. With so many other distractions in our nation, I’m not sure what will actually get over the finish line, but there was a series of fisheries related bills heard in September, most of them not making any biological, ecological or economic sense however.

It’s hard to consider any bill viable if its intention is to roll back the historic successes we’ve had under the current version of the Magnuson Stevens Act. Well, that’s what the Modern Fish Act, HR 200, and the Red Snapper Act’s intention is, and it just won’t fly with those that want a future for our fisheries.

Thankfully, there’s a more sensible option out there. Representative Huffman (CA) has put together an option that respects our past successes, and truly looks ahead for the future of our fishermen, and our resource. Huffman’s bill should bring bi-partisan support that successfully updates an already successful law. Call me biased, but given our history of working waterfront success, and cannery row collapses on the West Coast, I think a Pacific Ocean perspective is a winning perspective.

Given the current divisiveness in our country, and the history of across-the-aisle support Magnuson Stevens legislation has enjoyed over the decades, we really can’t stand for anything else other than Democratic and Republican support for such an important piece of legislation. Our fish and wildlife resources are often one of the rare treasures that both parties understand we need more of. Given how other countries have managed theirs, we are already a leader in fisheries conservation, and we’re now reaping the rewards of our successful fishery laws.

For us in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been a fun few years. We’ve enjoyed incredible salmon returns, excellent tuna catches (maybe not this year), unparalleled crabbing and the halibut and bottomfishing has been inspirational. Keep in mind that Oregonians have been harvesting these resources for almost two centuries, and despite explosive population growth and a human footprint that has changed our landscape beyond recognition, we still have an incredible resource that feeds our communities and economies.

There’s been very few fishery resources that haven’t hit rock bottom, mostly due to a lack of knowledge of the needs of these resources to sustain their populations over time. And the resources that have rebounded the best are the ones we’ve kept our hands off of, letting nature just take its course. Halibut, bottomfish, an array of forage fish species and of course salmon have all been down in the dumps over our short history of exploiting these stocks. I recognize that boom and bust cycles have been happening since the beginning of time, as referenced in the above hyperlink on sardine and anchovy populations, but no one in their right mind can deny the effect humans have had on our fishery resources. Intense management of these resources is a necessary element if we wish to continue to utilize these fisheries to benefit our communities.

Ana Hernandez from Quepos, Costa Rica poses with her 24-pound Tillamook Chinook caught just outside of the jaws. 10/4/17

Now is not the time to enact rollbacks for bipartisan supported fishery laws that have withstood the test of time. Despite the lack of cohesiveness in Congress, the folks credited with building and sustaining our working waterfronts deserve sound management measures that will enable these rural communities to continue to thrive. That’s particularly important as we’re just now starting to see the downturn in productivity coming off of some fairly spectacular years.

As I’ve written before, and anyone that’s been paying attention to your creel and the news, mediocrity seems to be a thing of the past. It’s pretty fun when all things swing our way; ocean productivity is up, snow pack is robust, fishing is excellent. It’s not so fun when hurricane after hurricane batters the East Coast, a warm water blob overcomes a large portion of our seafood’s feeding grounds and blanket restrictions get placed on one robust fisheries because there’s like 1,600 wild steelhead returning to the upper Columbia basin in 2017. Extremes are the new reality, and who’s really ready for that?

Congress must navigate this MSA reauthorization with a vision for the future. It’s hard enough managing fisheries for our current needs, and under more predictable and historical weather patterns. No one expects any law to meet the needs of all our people, that’s why they call it “reauthorization.” Updates are necessary, but we learn from our past mistakes, take the good and make it better, and hope that our maneuvers will meet the needs of our resources for future generations of fishers to enjoy. Ignorance used to be a valid excuse, but we know too much now. Let’s work towards a bi-partisan solution to a good law and get it through Congress to keep our waterfronts working. Thank you representative Huffman for giving us that chance.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for Oct 6th

Willamette Valley/Metro – With passage at Bonneville fading, success rates for Chinook downstream of Bonneville is as well. Pro trollers are still posting the best numbers, using spinners or Brad’s Super Baits behind them. There isn’t much time before this fishery fades into memory, by mid-October, it’s largely over with the exception of a few fish at Bonneville itself.

Effort for coho is growing, both on the lower Clackamas and on the Sandy River as well. Catches haven’t been great, but enough to keep anglers interested. We’re entering peak season for these rivers, but with no river rises in the forecast, fishing will remain challenging for these timid fish.

Sturgeon fishing is a great alternative with the Portland Harbor and the reach from the I-5 Bridge to Warrior Rock as well as Bonneville itself providing plenty of sport.

Northwest – Buoy 10 remains depressing for coho trollers. We’re waiting on the B-run coho, due to come in, in better numbers by mid-month. They’re certainly not there now, but crabbing remains excellent when tides cooperate.

Tillamook Bay remains slow for Chinook, but the Pro Troll/spinner combo thing has caught on, and anglers are taking fair numbers of Chinook in the Ghost Hole, and at Bay City. The ocean has been oddly slow, but the noticeably clear water may have them spooked. Wild coho catches remain robust, but those fish must be released. Ocean crabbing remains epic, but rough seas this weekend will curb effort and access.

Nehalem Bay is also flush with wild coho, and only a few anglers are consistently catching Chinook. Hatchery coho at the North Fork Nehalem hatchery remain sparse. Wheeler and Nehalem reaches are picking up for Chinook, but this fishery should fade after mid-month.

The Nestucca has slowed and the Salmon River fishery is largely over.

The Siletz remains a fair option, but has slowed from previous weeks, and the Alsea is a bit of a disappointment right now. This fishery should be firing up quite well by now.

Estuary crabbing remains good to excellent in most northern bays, but the current strong tide series is quelling catches. People are also losing their crab pots to swift outgoing tides, especially when the pots are under-weighted. Check the side of the store at Garibaldi Marina if you’ve lost one, I just put one there today. PEOPLE: Don’t under gear your crab pots, use heavier gear, you’ll lose less of it.

As predicted by ODF&W, razor clamming is challenging, but the clams are of good quality.

Southwest – From our friend Pete Heley

Coho salmon season opened last Monday on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile Lakes. There are not any returning salmon in those lakes yet, but Siltcoos could receive returning salmon at any time since a high tide could get them into the lake’s Siltcoos River outlet and the river’s dam with fish ladder is in tidewater.

It may be interesting the weekend after next when there is a bass tournament on the lake and possibly quite a few salmon anglers. Anglers with 2-rod validations need to remember that those validations are not valid on the three lakes for the rest of the calendar year. They are valid on every other lake, just not the three coho salmon lakes.

Salmon anglers fishing from the bank at Winchester Bay are having fair success casting spinners at the usual spots. Boat anglers are having to work for their salmon with the guides being far more successful than the average salmon angler. The Coos, Coquille and Siuslaw rivers are starting to offer better and more consistent fishing.

An even larger pile perch of three and a half pounds was caught in Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin topping the two “near three pounders” taken last week. Crabbing remains very good along the entire Oregon coast.

Bottomfish reopened on October 1st in waters deeper than 40 fathoms – with some strict conditions and I strongly suggest anglers read the relevant information on the ODFW’s homepage, or call the helpful folks at the Charleston ODFW office. Their phone number is 541-888-5515.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran:

Deschutes River – Fall fishing continues to ramp up for rainbows and the dry fly fishing is very good.  Fish caddis, BWO’s and PMD’s and prepare to switch as the hatches go off.  The weather this week is prime so get out  on the “D’ and gitter done!

John Day River – Flows bumped up to 350 CFPS this past week with the rain but the river should fall into great shape by the weekend. October is a great time to get a big bass on the river. Fish streamers or plastic twisters in the morning and switch to top water in the afternoon.  Fly or spin fishing should be great for another couple weeks.

Metolius River –  Fall Drakes, BWO’s, PMD’s and Mahogany Dunns are still the go to dries and the dry fly fishing should be from mid morning through the day.

Snake River – Spent last week hunting and fishing on the Snake.  Steelhead are all catch and release and the guides were reporting fair success even with the small run.  Boats were getting between 2 and 6 fish per trip.  Most guys were side drifting eggs and yarn balls.  The bass fishing was good with fish to 3 pounds for us.  We caught them on chartreuse curly grubs and rooostertails.  I suspect the fishing is always good here until the snow starts to fly!  The catfishing was good too! we caught them on some tuna bellies and worms.  They were delicious!  Authors note..If you haven’t been into Hells Canyon get there before you die!  It’s as stunning as any place I’ve ever been.  During our hunt we encountered, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, an unlucky mountain lion and two nice bucks!  If you love to fish, hunt hike or just see the scenery from a jet boat the place is truly magnificent!

Tight lines and good luck in all your outdoor endeavors this week!

SW Washington – Most SW Washington tributaries remain challenging for anglers, for both Chinook and coho salmon. The Cowlitz is hatchery fish only, of which there are few.

Other district rivers are low and clear, and holding timid fish.

The Drano Lake fishery is fair, but the mouth of the Klickitat is improving and coho should make a stronger showing by the month’s end.

Coho in the North Fork and Cowlitz won’t show in measureable numbers for at least another week.

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.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for September 29th

Willamette Valley/Metro – Chinook passage at Bonneville is starting to slip, and so is consistency in the below Bonneville troll fishery. Catch rates remain good enough to justify effort however, persistent anglers are still taking 2-fish limits of Chinook with some regularity. Spinners or super-baits trolled behind Pro Trolls is still the go-to option, but wobbler dunkers working lures on anchor are still taking a few fish if strategically set up in a trolling lane. This fishery should remain viable for at least another 10 days, even with the downturn in predicted return rates.

Savvy Sandy River coho salmon anglers had a good week following the season’s first significant rain reports pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920). Spinner casters and bobber and bait fishermen did well from Oxbow to Cedar Creek, but now that the river has receded and is likely to stay at low levels, fish will become timid again, but be concentrated in the deeper holes.

Clackamas River anglers also found fair success following the rain freshet, but conditions have once again become challenging for river anglers. Coho are well distributed to McIver Park, but there are certainly more to come.

Sturgeon fishing often becomes more consistent for lower Willamette anglers and although there is relatively low effort, this can be a high action fishery that gets folks hooked on sturgeon fishing. Smelt or sand shrimp is likely the best options for bait.

Northwest – Coho have once again shown in good numbers in the Buoy 10 fishery. Catches were good early in the week, but have tapered slightly by week’s end. This is supposed to be a transition time from the “A” run fish to the later returning and Washington tributary bound “B” run fish that dominate the mid-October catch at Buoy 10. The best action is taking place above the bridge on the Washington side.

Crabbing on the lower Columbia is excellent, and razor clam digging is slated to reopen on October1st, although results will likely disappoint. Just think quality over quantity.

Tillamook fishing has been slow for Chinook and coho. Many of the hatchery coho have made their way to the Trask River facility, but the North Fork Nehalem has realized a disappointing run to date. Catches in the estuary suggest there are still fair numbers of fish to come. The effort has remained in the lower bay and adjacent ocean waters. Ocean crabbing remains excellent, and bay crabbing is holding up as well.

The Trask got a good shot of hatchery coho and some Chinook, but anglers are finding their best success in the lower reaches, where fish are concentrated in tidewater, but not necessarily biting due to the low tide exchanges.

The Tillamook River certainly has some Chinook in it as well, but again, low tide exchanges is limiting success.

The Salmon River Chinook fishery never went gangbusters, but the Nestucca and Siletz have been putting out impressive numbers given the return to most north coast tributaries. The Alsea is also producing good results, especially for herring trollers fishing near the mouth of the river. By next week, the tidewater fisheries should be producing.

Calm seas have recently inspired tuna chasers to make one last effort for the sliver bullets. One boat running out of Astoria has been having consistent success running 55 miles SW of the Columbia River mouth. The upcoming weather system may once again scatter fish however, but they remain a nice grade for those in pursuit.

No viable deep reef fishery this year, that traditionally started on October 1st, as the quota for lingcod and black rockfish is eaten up at this time. We’ll have to wait for January before we can pursue swimming fish taco’s again.

Southwest – From our friend Pete Heley

The bottomfish reopening, when it happens, will not be a complete reopening. Nearshore waters will remain closed until at least January 1st, when a new year’s quota goes into effect and the offshore waters that do reopen will allow retention of lingcod and some rockfish species, but other rockfish species will remain off limits. Ocean salmon anglers need to know that as of October 1st anglers fishing for salmon or having salmon on board are restricted to waters less than 40 fathoms (240 feet) deep.

Salmon fishing remains fair, but inconsistent for boat anglers fishing the Umpqua River. Fishing success is improving for anglers casting spinners from shore at Half Moon Bay, Osprey Point and near the Gardiner Boat Ramp.

Aaron Abraham, while fishing with sand shrimp for salmon in Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin, landed pile perch weighing 2.70 and 2.69 pounds.

The retention of coho salmon in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes becomes legal on October 1st. The only stream fishing that will be legal to fish for salmon on the three lakes is the portion of the Siltcoos River from the lake down to the Highway 101 Bridge.

Salmon fishing success is gradually improving on the Coos, Coquille and Siuslaw rivers and the Rogue has been very good with a number of chinooks weighing between 37 and 45 pounds taken in the last ten days.

Crabbing remains very good pretty much anywhere along the Oregon coast and it seems like all but the very largest crabs are full of meat.

Central Coast summer all-depth halibut season is closed and public input is invited on the 2018 seasons.

Southern Oregon Subarea: This area remains open seven days per week until October 31 or the quota is caught. 3,436 pounds remain.

Reminder: with the recent recreational bottomfish closure, no species of bottomfish (rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, etc) except for other flatfish species, may now be retained.

Eastern – Our friend Tim Moran will be deer hunting Eastern Oregon this week instead of reporting on it. Good luck Tim! I’m getting excited myself for some terrestrial time in pursuit of elk this coming season!

SW Washington

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 24 bank rods kept 1 adult Chinook and released 1 jack and 1 adult coho. 8 boats/19 rods kept 1 adult Chinook and released 2 jack and 3 adult Chinook, 1 adult coho, and 1 steelhead. From the I-5 Bridge upstream: 18 bank rods kept 2 jack and 1 adult Chinook and 1 steelhead and released 4 adult Chinook, 1 jack coho, and 3 cutts. No boats were sampled.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 2,580 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, September 25. Water visibility is 14 feet and water temperature is 55.4 degrees F.

Drano Lake – No report on angling success. Effective October 1, anglers may fish for SALMON and STEELHEAD with two poles with a Two-Pole Endorsement and each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON and STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. Barbed hooks will be allowed October 1 through December 31. The lake will be closed to all fishing from 6 pm Tuesdays to 6 pm Wednesdays in October

Yakima River Fall Salmon Fishery Update Sept 1-17: A total of 909 adult chinook and 211 jacks have moved upstream of the Prosser Diversion since August 1. Fall Chinook counts into the Yakima River have been slow and steady over the past two weeks at ~25 adult Chinook per day. WDFW staff interviewed 195 anglers this past week with 11 salmon observed in the harvest (38 hours per fish). There were an estimated 906 angler trips for salmon in the lower Yakima River this past week with a total of 1,758 angler trips for the season. An estimated 82 adult Chinook have been harvested this season. Fishing should continue to improve over the next few weeks of the season.

Buoy 10 – Some hatchery coho are being caught. Effective October 1, the salmonid daily limit increases to 6 fish of which 2 may be adult salmon or one adult salmon and one hatchery steelhead. Salmon minimum size is 12 inches. Any Chinook, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Lewis downstream – Light effort and catch during the current no Chinook retention through the end of this month. Effective October 1, up to two adult Chinook, fin clipped or not, may be retained.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Lewis River upstream to Bonneville Dam – Chinook catches were very good, especially earlier last week. Effort in this area is fairly heavy. No creel sampling numbers are currently available.

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An Incredible Opportunity to Wind Back the Clock

By Bob Rees
http://www.northwestguides.com/fishing/

Following the abrupt closure of Oregon’s nearshore bottomfish fishery will resonate for the next several months since this is hay-making time for most small coastal ports as we transition to winter downtime. It’s critical that charter companies build a winter nest egg, not just for their families, but they also spend a lot of that revenue on boat and gear repairs and running the circuit of trade shows for next year’s clientele. The decision to close bottomfishing is not made lightly, but necessarily, especially on the heels of a detailed black rockfish stock assessment made recently that indicated a downward trend. Black rockfish are the backbone of the ocean sportfishing industry on the Oregon Coast.

I heard today that pending stakeholder input, the fleet may have some access to the deep reef fishery that has become so popular in recent years. This fishery, held outside of 30 fathoms, is only open from October 1st – March 31st, a time frame that doesn’t allow for many fishable days due to weather. This also, is a fishery many have come to depend on, and although it may not be as liberal a season as we’ve historically seen, something is better than nothing for this gem of an opportunity.

Most of us take for granted these abundant populations of rockfish and lingcod, but as many of us know, it wasn’t that long ago when lingcod limits were just one per person and just a few years ago, you could keep 7 black rockfish instead of the current 6. It’s a dynamic fishery to manage, thankfully, we have competent biologists doing it.

Most of the work of deciding who gets how much is done at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, made up of competent stakeholders and knowledgeable biologists. They are the guardians of this galaxy and dedicate an incredible amount of time to make sure their decisions are sound. The reading assignments alone are enough to blow anyone’s mind.

It’s not the council, the agencies or even the fish stocks that has me worried about the future of this resource however, it’s Congress. In the coming weeks, members of the house will be hearing potential legislation that could indeed roll back the conservation gains we’ve made in recent decades, that have actually allowed us to pursue these fish for our families and communities. What an incredible opportunity to roll back the clock, and sensible legislation that has gotten us to a good spot after much sacrifice by our working waterfronts.

The first piece of semi-sensible legislation is being vetted in draft form. Titled “Strengthening Fishing Communities through Improving Science, Increasing Flexibility, and Modernizing Fisheries Management Act,” it still has some elements that throw up red flags for most stakeholders. Compromising the rebuilding timeline would be one of those problematic areas. But compared to some of the other sand traps out there, such as Representative Don Young’s (Alaska) HR 200, or Representative Garret Graves’ (Louisiana) Modern Fish Act, we at least have a starting point for a conversation.

In short, HR 200 and the Modern Fish Act throw caution to the wind by eliminating Annual Catch Limits (ACL’s) and taking management of some fisheries out of the hands of the federal fisheries managers, who have strict guidelines to adhere to under Magnuson Stevens. Most appalling, these measured roll-backs are largely being driven by some prominent sport groups in the gulf states. Compromising the future of our fisheries for short-term gain is just not how we do it here in Oregon. Just imagine, a sportfishing free-for-all for bottomfish off the Oregon Coast. I think we all know how that would end.

Oregon’s angling community continues to impress me. Even when fishery managers have opened up opportunity for stocks of fish that have historically been compromised, our community has cautiously approached these opportunities with scrutiny, making sure we weren’t compromising the future recovery efforts of the species. We’ve been put on the sidelines many-a-time here in the Northwest, and many of us believe it was for good reason. The fishery is monitored and managed more intensively now than ever before, to minimize those closures and ensure we don’t fall back into draconian regulations that further plummet rural communities into despair.

2 big lings caught outside of the Columbia River

When the Magnuson Stevens Act was first drafted in the 70’s, it was to rebuild depleted stocks of fish, and prevent what was happening in other parts of the world from happening in US waters. Well, mission accomplished, but apparently the Congressmen of the present weren’t paying attention to the lessons we’ve learned from the Congressmen of the past. Our fisheries aren’t in dire peril, but in the face of climate change and an acidifying ocean, small incremental roll backs can have a compounding impact on our fish stocks in the very near future. It’s us as stakeholders that are responsible for taking Congress to task to make sure that doesn’t happen.

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Oregon fishing reports for Sept 23rd

Willamette Valley/Metro – With declining dam counts, come declining success rates. Chinook counts at Bonneville have consistently dipped below 10,000 fish a day, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t catchable numbers of fish around. Trollers working Pro Troll flashers and spinners are still taking fish with fair regularity in the Bonneville to St. Helens reach of the lower Columbia. Anchor anglers are also finding some biters if they happen to anchor in the right slot. This fishery should stay viable for another few weeks.

The unusual early season rain that metro coho salmon anglers hope for hit early this week. Both the Sandy and the Clackamas do have fishable numbers of coho available with more on the way.

The Sandy came up over 2 feet, inspiring staging coho to begin their trek upstream. Catches have been light as of mid-week, but should improve into the weekend.

The Clackamas has fish to Feldhiemers with anglers taking fish on spinners when they can find concentrations of fish.

Sturgeon fishing remains a catch and release option in the lower Willamette, and around the mouth at Kelly Point Park.

Northwest – Despite a semi-significant rain event for this time of year, catches in the Tillamook district didn’t improve all that much. Tillamook Bay itself is still producing fair numbers of fall Chinook, but never really materialized for hatchery coho. The rain event did raise the Trask River by 1.5 feet, enabling bank anglers to take advantage of hatchery coho and Chinook that took advantage of the river rise.

Nehalem Bay anglers say a flurry of action for both Chinook and coho on Wednesday, but a fair number of wild coho were in the mix requiring release. Despite the rain event, coho fishing at the North Fork Nehalem hatchery has not been all that productive.

The Nestucca and Salmon River systems should be peaking right now but action has been medium at best. These systems, especially the Nestucca, will get fish well into October, but the bulk of the run will be in by month’s end.

The Alsea return is also somewhat mediocre. The tidewater fishery kicked off with the recent rain event and should improve into October.

The Siletz remains fairly quiet, but should improve in the coming weeks.

The  ocean has been too rough to access in recent days, but is forecasted to come back down by the weekend. Tuna chasers will be after them by Friday. Ocean crabbing remains excellent. Bottomfishing is closed, but a deep reef fishery looks promising for October.

Bay crabbing likely won’t be all that impacted by the recent rain freshet.

Southwest – From TGF’s friend Pete Heley (PeteHeley.com) – The big news this past week was the implementation, as of Monday, October 18th, of a complete closure on bottomfishing along the Oregon coast. A similar closure went into effect in 2004, but that closure allowed anglers to target bottomfish while fishing from shore. In another recent year, Oregon’s cabezon fishery was closed because California anglers had retained the entire west coast quota before they realized it.

This complete closure of indefinite duration will result in economic hardship for Charleston, Newport and several other Oregon coastal communities, but it is also bad news for Winchester Bay and Florence which had almost completed their annual six-month offshore bottomfishing closure and were scheduled to resume their non-jetty bottom-fisheries on October 1st.

Flatfish, such as sanddabs, flounder, and sole are not included in the closure as are halibut which are managed separately. Surfperch remain legal angling fare as do tuna which have moved shoreward along the southern Oregon coast. Crabbing and clamming are marine activities that remain open and are currently very productive.

Slightly cooler weather has improved the trout bite at Lake Marie, but one has to wonder how many trout are left in the lake. The best Columbia River walleye fishery in recent memory is starting to slow down and anglers targeting walleyes.

The Umpqua and Coquille rivers are still producing very good smallmouth bass fishing and cooler weather should increase the chance of catching larger bass – and make evening fishing every bit as productive as early morning fishing. Striped bass fishing on the Coquille River seems to be improving.

Extremely heavy fishing pressure on the fishing dock in Tugman Park on Eel Lake has finally influenced fishing success. Most of the decent-sized crappies have been caught and kept and even the smaller, frequently-released crappies are starting to wise up. Tenmile Lake bass-fishing continues to be productive and yellow perch anglers fishing off the fishing dock in the County Park finally caught a few bluegill and crappie last week.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran:

Deschutes River – The White River is pumping some off colored water into the Deschutes but it hasn’t effected the color too much and fishing below the confluence should be fine.  There are still plenty of fish around and very little pressure.

Metolius River – Dry fly fishing is good on the Met this time of year.  The game is getting what they want.. Adams, BWO’s, PMD’s, October caddis and Mahogany Dunns in 18 to 22 and Drakes in 12 and 14 will all work at various times. Bring lots of flies in different stages and break down the puzzle.

Cascade Lakes – Okay so most of them got snow the last couple days…that should tell those big fish it’s time to eat!  With the better weather this weekend I’d look for 10AM hatches at East and Paulina and fish the shallow flats where the water will warn first.

Boaters troll size 4 or 5 hotshots or a worm behind your favorite flasher. This is a great time to fish as the trout are gearing up for winter and most of your buddies are chasing deer and elk!

Have a great weekend everyone!

SW Washington – No update from WDF&W this week, but go here for last week’s report.

The Drano Lake fishery as well as the Klickitat should be producing good results right now. It’s peak season for these fisheries.

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.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for September 16th

Willamette Valley/Metro – After a slow start, trollers are starting to see much more consistent fishing from Bonneville to Warrior Rock right now. Regulations in place now don’t allow for any retention of Chinook downstream of Warrior Rock to protect sensitive stocks of tule Chinook. Those working Pro Trolls and spinners are producing fine results for upriver brights and with a cooling trend on the horizon, that will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Anchor fishing with wobblers is becoming a bit out-dated now as the Pro-troll technique continues to take the region by storm.

Coho are starting to show in the lower Sandy and Clackamas Rivers. If the first fall rains hit as predicted, anglers, both bank and boat, should have good opportunity for fresh-run coho in both of these rivers. Given the success of Buoy 10 anglers this week, there appears to be a wad of them ready to return.

Willamette River anglers don’t necessarily target coho in the mainstem, but spinner casters and plunkers sometimes find success at the mouth of the Clackamas or at Meldrum Bar. This week could provide some of that opportunity.

Northwest – Although action tapered only slightly, epic coho action was been the rule all week on the lower Columbia. Limits by 9:00 a.m. were common for anchovy and spinner trollers fishing near the Astoria/Megler Bridge this week, that’s likely to change in the near future as the region expects to receive it’s first fall rains as early as Sunday. Chinook fishing remains closed in the Buoy 10 area, and the retention restriction now goes all the way upstream to Warrior Rock near St. Helens.

Crabbing is good in the lower Columbia

Tillamook Bay anglers continue to struggle for consistent Chinook results. The ideal soft tide series produced better results than earlier in the week, but the mediocre bites have been short-lived. Most of the effort has been taking place in the lower bay, along the jetties and the south side of the south jetty is producing fair as well. Hatchery coho are oddly absent right now.

Nehalem Bay has produced some sporadic Chinook catches lately, and hatchery coho numbers seem a bit down here too. Like Tillamook, the main focus this week has been towards the jaws.

The Nestucca, Alsea and Siletz are producing some Chinook catches, but overall, action has been less than stellar. The current soft tide series should reveal a lot about how these fisheries are going to produce this season, and they have all been far from explosive lately. It remains a herring show in the lower reaches, but that should change as tides intensify.

Rain is expected towards the end of the weekend, but far from enough precipitation to start floating driftboats down north coast rivers. Regardless, a good deluge will be welcome, and should inspire a strong push of fish into most north coast estuaries. Coho should start heading up the Trask and North Fork Nehalem systems no matter how little rain we get, as long as there is a slight river rise. Mid-September should be peak season in the estuaries that harbor hatchery runs of coho.

Ocean crabbing is epic. If you can’t take a limit of crab, something is wrong with you or your gear. Bay crabbing is excellent as well, but limits will take a bit more effort, but still quite likely.

Another all-depth halibut opener on the 15th and 16th. Catches should be good, especially out of Newport.

Bottomfishing coast-wide closes starting Monday. It’s been an impressive year, but with poor ocean salmon success and an absence of albacore, the fleet had to focus on something in the salt. The deep reef option is up in the air, but a decision is forthcoming.

Southwest – From TGF’s friend Pete Heley (PeteHeley.com) – As of 9/13/17 Oregon’s recreational bottomfish season will close to all species but flatfish as of Sunday, Sept. 17 at 11:59 p.m. because the quotas for several species have been reached.

Several ocean fishing opportunities remain available, including: Flatfish, such as sanddabs and petrale sole (not including halibut, which are considered separately).
Crabbing in oceans and bays, which has been excellent lately. Tuna, which are starting to come closer to shore in southern Oregon now.
For more information on Oregon’s marine resources and fisheries, please see: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/

The nonselective ocean coho season closed last Thursday evening due to the quota being met. The 7,900 coho quota went quickly despite two of the six days being virtually unfishable.

The first two days of the nonselective ocean coho catch was included in the data for the week of August 28th through Sept. 3rd and the most productive ports were Pacific City with 1.20 salmon per angler trip and Newport with with 1.17 salmon per angler trip. The least productive port was Charleston with 0.15 salmon per angler trip. Winchester Bay averaged .32 salmon per angler trip.

On a somewhat brighter note, the bank salmon fishery at Winchester Bay is becoming more productive with several fish or more landed each day by bank anglers using spinners.

Crabbing continues to be very good in the ocean near the Umpqua River Bar when reachable and in the lower Umpqua River near Half Moon Bay.

California’s Pacific Halibut season ended on Sepember 10th when the state’s entire quota of 34,580 pounds was met.

Eel Lake continues to produce good crappie fishing, but the best catches are now being made by boat anglers fishing areas of the lake away from the fishing dock at Tugman Park.

There has been no reports of striper fishing success on the Smith and Umpqua rivers, but that is to be expected as striper anglers tend to be a very close-mouthed group.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran

Deschutes River – Fall fishing is here (even though it’s technically still summer) and the trout fishing on the big ‘D” is good and will only get better! lot’s of caddis, aquatic moth and BWO’s and the rain that’s forecast for this weekend will only make fishing better as may fly hatches between showers can really set these fish off!

John Day River – flows are low enough now that you can walk the river in many places (like right down the middle). This is great cast and blast fishing and dove hunting…just make sure you’re on public land or have a ranchers permission to hunt.

Metolius River – It’s September…probably the best month of the year to fish the Met. Smoke comes and goes but the river is open and the summer crowds are gone! Fall Drakes, PMD’s and Mahogany Dunns are all coming off right now and this is the best time of the year to get em’ on dries!

Cascade Lakes – Brown trout at Wickiup will start to stage in the arms for their fall spawn as well as to dine on kokanee and their eggs.

SW Washington – From the WDF&W web site:

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 19 boats/56 rods kept 12 adult and 2 jack fall Chinook, 2 steelhead and 2 coho and released 20 adult and 2 jack fall Chinook and 1 steelhead. 2 bank anglers had no catch.

From the I-5 Bridge upstream: 10 bank anglers kept 2 adult and 2 jack fall Chinook. No boats were sampled.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,220 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, September 11. Water visibility is 13 feet and water temperature is 54.9 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Drano Lake – 45 boat anglers kept 16 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook, 1 adult and 1 jack coho, and released 2 adult Chinook and 3 steelhead. There were 39 boats here last Saturday morning.

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Note the Signs

By Bob Rees
The Guide’s Forecast

By now, most fishermen have heard the most recent fish tale out of Puget Sound; the escapement of who knows how many Atlantic salmon into the “wild” waters in our own backyard. Of course this isn’t the first time such a mishap has happened, and it won’t be the last one either.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that as iconic and important as salmon are to the world, there hasn’t been more attempts to foul up one of the most revered fish species on the planet. Of course there have been other attempts, such as genetically engineering “Fraken-salmon” for the commercial market, and let’s not forget the maybe not so tragic escapement of Pacific Salmon in South America. It’s gotten avid anglers in the Pacific Northwest pretty excited to fish new waters. No doubt this invasive species will wreak consequences in some fashion in South America however. There are no free lunches in fishing.

There’s also been some good things come from our policy-makers, indicating that they are indeed paying attention as to what’s happening on the salmon-scape in our region. Back in 2013, some members of Oregon’s Coastal Caucus (legislators that represent Oregon’s coastal community) introduced HB 3177, requiring genetically modified fish to be labeled as such if produced or imported into the state of Oregon. Another positive initiative was to ban the harvest of krill in Pacific Coast waters, both federal and state. This too was precedent setting as we become more knowledgeable as to how our ecosystems function (or dysfunction) when we remove such a keystone species such as krill.

As we’ve witnessed time and time again, we don’t have much maneuverability to make mistakes with so many other factors coming down the pipeline. We make enough just in the course of managing our salmon runs in-season.

And speaking of in-season management, admittedly, after conducting wild coho salmon spawning ground surveys in the early 90’s, I NEVER thought I’d see the day again when we could have a consumptive opportunity to keep wild coho again. Through proper management, and a little bit of forgiveness from Mother Nature, we just completed a nearly 7,900 harvest of coho in the south of Cape Falcon ocean fishery that abruptly closed on 9/7. The sport fleet caught almost as many coho in 6 days (September 2 – 7), as we did in 5 weeks of June/July fishing (June 24 – July 31). The early closure will be a blow to coastal ports, but it was also a boon for those that marketed it.

It’s going to be tough to turn back those incidentally caught wild coho while we pursue Chinook but Oregon’s anglers wouldn’t have it any other way. We worked hard and have invested much to witness the rebounding of the magnificent and resilient salmon, we’re not going to let our hard work and money go to waste, we want a future for this species and our opportunity.

It’s for this reason, I remain perplexed as to why some Congressmen are opting for amendments to the Magnuson Stevens Act as it remains a target for some user groups to gain more opportunity at the cost of the rebuilding timeline for the species. It’s a pretty heated topic as you may read in Charles Witek’s blog piece here. I can’t say I’m intimately familiar with the whole story, but it certainly has the community riled up, and I just don’t think this is something anyone in Oregon would tolerate, no matter what you have to win or lose.

In the batter’s box is a September 12th hearing on MSA reauthorization in Congress. Given the make-up of the “witnesses,” it seems a bit stacked to be too hopeful that sound policy will prevail. Here are the hearing details.

Maybe not so ironic is the fact that this hearing is happening in the fall, a period of time when most anglers have a bounty of species preserved for the upcoming winter months. Guides and charters have hopefully had a successful season, and those of us punch-drunk for fall hunting seasons (yours truly included) aren’t paying as much attention to fish politics as we should be when our issues can easily go sideways. Let’s hope the only gutting going on this month is upon our fish and wildlife, not proven laws and policy such as the Magnuson Stevens Act.

As we whack, stack and vacuum pack away our fall bounty, we need to be cognizant of our days ahead. Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve enjoyed a mediocre return of salmon coming off of some pretty impressive years, but we’re clearly in a downturn. Summer steelhead returns are in the tank, fall Chinook numbers are way down from last year, and the assumed prediction, and tuna are only found in scarce number. And as the west burns up under forest fire, and the gulf coast states get pummeled by wind and rain, let’s not forget who’s in charge here; it’s not us, and as much as we try, we continue to fall even harder. Let’s see if we can buck the trend on Magnuson Stevens reauthorization.

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