Willamette Valley/Metro – Following the wintery blast, temperatures warmed and coupled with a good batch of rain, caused metro rivers to rise and become out of reach for most steelheaders. Action wasn’t great anyway, as most of the metro steelhead stocks have switched to later returning broodstock fish, which are due to peak later in January and February. Action should improve following the current rain freshet.
Plunkers that commonly work Meldrum Bar for winter steelhead this time of year are largely giving up. Steelhead are scarce on the Willamette, and sea lions are working steelhead and sturgeon in the area, further depressing anglers. The river is scheduled to rise over the weekend, further dampening prospects.
There should still be good numbers of broodstock trout available this week in Walling Pond, Junction City Pond, Timber Linn Lake, Sunnyside Park Pond, Henry Hagg Lake, Blue Lake, Mt. Hood Pond, Huddleston Pond, Canby Pond. Over 100 large trout were planted in nearly each of these bodies of water (except Mt. Hood Pond and Canby Pond). Henry Hagg Lake remains a great all-year option for various sizes of trout now as well.
Free tickets are now available for the Association of Northwest Steelheader’s Quest for 100k campaign, and an update on the sea lion legislation on the Willamette and Columbia systems taking place at Camp Withycombe on January 9th at 6:30 p.m. Visit their home page at www.nwsteelheaders.org for more details.
Northwest – Early season steelhead were falling with more regularity prior to the cold snap on the Oregon Coast. The North Fork Nehalem, Three Rivers near Hebo and the Wilson River should have catchable numbers of fish present.
Returning numbers thus far have been depressed, the North Fork Nehalem has reported fewer than 300 fish to date collected in their trap.
The Wilson appears to be a bright spot, relatively speaking anyway. Coupled with early season “brats,” are some quality broodstock fish tipping the scales well into the teens. This component of steelhead will surge in the coming weeks, providing great opportunities for anglers through March. Wild fish numbers should also improve on the Wilson.
The Trask and Nehalem should also start to see growing numbers of wild fish as well. Of course all wild fish must be released unharmed. These larger wild fish are more apt to take hardware, especially when water temperatures warm.
Retention of Chinook on the north coast closes starting January 1st.
Tide exchanges will be on the increase this week, making bay crabbing more challenging.
The ocean opens back up for bottomfish on Monday. Now, we just need a cooperative ocean forecast to excite anglers. Ocean crabbing should be excellent until the commercial fleet starts soaking pots starting January 12th.
Columbia River fishing report – no fishing to speak of, but crabbers will take a crack at lower Columbia opportunity over the New Years weekend, it should be good.
Be mindful of the strong minus tide over the weekend, you’ll need to make sure you retrieve your gear by high slack, or risk losing it to the intense outgoing.
You may want to bring your clam shovel or gun however. Clatsop beaches may be ripe for the picking come Sunday night. The swell should lie down, motivating razors to feed near the surface, where diggers should have good access to them.
Great opportunities for both fresh Dungeness crab AND razor clams don’t come along simultaneously all that often.
Southwest – From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce that recreational crabbing is now open from Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford, to the Columbia River. Crab samples taken from the area indicate that levels of the marine biotoxin domoic acid have dropped below the alert level.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open on most of Oregon’s coast on Jan. 15, 2018. Dungeness crab will be ready to be harvested from Cape Blanco to the Columbia River, and north into Washington.
Gary Wolfer reported that he took advantage of calm ocean conditions to crab the ocean outside of Winchester Bay. Gary and two friends ended up with a boat limit (36) of crabs and most of them were well over the 5 3/4-inch minimum legal size.
Whale Watching Week starts December 27th. Although the “official” whale watching site is located in Depoe Bay, it isn’t the best Oregon location to actually view migrating whales. There are better whale-viewing sites in our local area including Shore Acres Park (just south of Charleston), Cape Perpetua (north of Florence) and Face Rock (just south of Bandon).
But many people consider the very best spot to view migrating gray whales along the entire Oregon coast is from the viewing area overlooking the mouth of the Umpqua River in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Winchester Bay.
Beginning Jan 1, 2018, the recreational bottomfish fishery will reopen with a 5 fish daily bag limit, no sub-bag limits (except cabezon when open).
Due to in-season regulation changes, for the remainder of 2017 anglers may NOT catch or retain lingcod, any species of rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or other bottomfish species except for flatfish species like sanddab and starry flounder. Surfperch fishing is not impacted by this closure, and remains open.
Anglers are reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches.
Anglers from Winchester Bay are reporting good surf perch fishing in the Triangle and south jetty areas.
With steelhead rivers vacillating between low and clear, and high and muddy, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.
Expo and Reinhart ponds have been recently stocked with rainbow trout.
Winter steelhead should pick up on the Coos and Coquille rivers once we get some significant rain.
Winter steelhead fishing continues to pick up on the Umpqua.
Anglers have been catching trout up to 19-inches while trolling in Tenmile Lakes.
Anglers have been catching some surfperch when ocean swells have been small.
Eastern – Waterbodies are starting to ice over, but ice thicknesses are unknown. Use caution when venturing out on the ice.
From our friend Tim Moran:
Deschutes River – Warm Springs to Maupin – Steelhead are still available but they’re going to act like trout in the colder temps. Nymph fish with stones, jig flies and beads. I use a 10′ 6 wt. for trout and Steelhead so I only have to carry one rod. Middle Deshutes below Benham Falls – swing wooly buggers and small streamers for browns and bows. Fishing won’t be red hot but your chances are better than sitting in-doors.
Metolius River – It’s fishing good below Allingham Bridge (closed above). Not too many fish looking up this time of year but it’s a great winter nymph fishery. Fish blue prince, golden stones and zebra midge nymphs in size 14 and smaller. If you get a hatch then it’s probably a BWO in size 22 or a 22 to 24 midge.
Grande Ronde River – Steelhead fishing has slowed due to temps but is still worth the effort. Fish nymphs and beads/egg fly patterns to entice strikes. The river is holding at about 950 cfs but with rain in the forecast it going to rise this weekend. The rain should help the water temp and fishing next week on the drop should be good!
Crooked River – Fish a small (really small) nymph and small and a smaller one below it. Drop shot-ing is very good this time of year. fish with a split shot on the bottom og your rig and the flies above. keep the first fly about 6 inches above the split shot and the second one 18″ above that. fish slow and keep your casts short.
Krumbo Reservior – Got some solid news about this winter gem. It is a good winter fishery with rainbows to 20″. Fish near the dam and near the inlet. Access can be difficult this time of year but fishing can be good from the bank or small boat.
SW Washington – From WDF&W, Anglers can find late-stock coho through the end of December, although this year’s return is only so-so. Hymer recommends the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers for those set on catching coho. For fall chinook, the North Fork Lewis should continue to produce catchable fish through December. Any chinook, with or without an adipose fin, may be retained on the Lewis.
The winter steelhead fishery is up and running after drawing a gathering of hardy anglers for the traditional Thanksgiving opening. River conditions have been up and down since then, so it’s always a good idea to check the Northwest River Forecast or other sources before heading out.
“Most anglers do best when water levels are rising or dropping,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “It’s a lot harder to catch steelhead in the peaks and troughs.”
Best bets for steelhead in the month ahead include the Cowlitz, Lewis (including the north fork), Kalama, Grays, Washougal and Elochoman rivers, along with Salmon Creek in Clark County, Hymer said. Above Bonneville Dam, Rock Creek in Skamania County is also a good place to catch steelhead.