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
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.