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Oregon Fisheries Update January 19th, 2018

Jan 19, 2018

Willamette Valley/Metro Sandy River steelheaders saw some fair action last week, and guides were able to keep it hush for most of the time. The word is out now however, some good catches were falling downstream of Dabney State Park. High flows call for big beads and brilliant colors, but as flows drop, make your offerings smaller and more subtle. We’re entering peak season for steelheaders here, with numbers growing into mid-February.

The Clackamas hasn’t been as productive, but effort has been light as well. Broodstock steelhead should start to show in better numbers through late February, but anglers haven’t been impressed just yet.

Both the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers reached ideal levels early this week, but were on the rise again, threatening weekend opportunities. Anglers did take advantage of good conditions and found steelhead on Monday and Tuesday.

The Willamette remains high and muddy, which is ok for sturgeon, and challenging for steelheaders. It won’t get any better for the foreseeable future either.

Two salmon, technically spring Chinook, have passed Bonneville Dam already. No need to get excited just yet.

The Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show is coming up February 7 – 11. Look for exhibitor information in an upcoming issue of the Portland Tribune.

Northwest After a tough week last week, steelheaders were finding some fresh run fish on the Wilson early this week. Some quality sized broodstock fish hit the deck on the Wilson, and the Nestucca River is starting to show signs of life as well. The upper drifts above Mills Bridge produced early in the week, but water levels are expected to remain stable into the weekend.

The North Fork Nehalem produced some surprising catches over the weekend, especially for anglers able to fish from the disabled platform. Returning hatchery fish stack here in good number before entering the hatchery.

Most north coast streams that harbored early returning steelhead should start to see some spawned out fish headed back to sea. There are commonly a few late returning bright hens that can produce fair table fare, but most anglers will be focusing on wild fish on the Kilchis, Trask and mainstem Nehalem Rivers, while those still seeking a hatchery fish option will stick to the Wilson and Nestucca systems.

Still no sign of a calming sea, so bottomfish will continue to get a reprieve after a productive New Year’s Day. Some commercial crabbers got out to set gear, but huge seas will likely prevent them from retrieving it for the foreseeable future.

Tides will be favorable for late morning crabbing on the coastal estuaries, and with commercial pots not set just yet, it should remain productive. Netarts and Tillamook Bays will likely produce the best catches.

Crabbers working the lower Columbia River are still faring good results. Weekend tides should be productive too.

Steelhead in the Klaskanine and Necanicum Rivers, as well as Big and Gnat Creek should be completing their spawning cycle. Down-runners will make up the bulk of the catch, but do provide good sport, along with an occasional fresh fish.

Southwest – From ODF&W outdoor report:

2018 Sport Groundfish (beginning Monday, Jan. 1, 2018)

Bottomfish fishery

Open at all depths, Jan-Mar and Oct –Dec. Only open inside of 30 fathom line Apr-Sept.

General Marine Fish daily bag limit is 5 fish; no sub-bag limits except for cabezon when open.

Cabezon opens July 1, with a 1 fish sub-bag limit.

Lingcod daily bag limit is 2 fish, separate from the General Marine fish bag limit. Minimum size of 22 inches.

Yelloweye rockfish prohibited at all times and in all waters.

Flatfish daily bag limit is 25 fish for species of sanddab, sole, flounder, etc. Does not include Pacific halibut.
Open all depths year round.

Anglers are reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches.

Anglers from Winchester Bay are reporting good surfperch 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.

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

Winter steelhead should pick up on the Coos and Coquille rivers once we get some significant rain.

Winter steelhead fishing has been good 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.

Ocean fishing for bottomfish has been great when conditions allow.

From our friend Pete Heley:

The ODFW is also encouraging anglers to turn in their combined angling or “salmon “ tags. While there isn’t a financial penalty for not doing so, the information helps the ODFW make better fish management decisions. One-day and multi-day licenses also have space to track salmon, steelhead and halibut harvest. Anglers who purchased these documents are also encouraged to return them to ODFW.

Combined Angling Tags, Hatchery Salmon/Steelhead Harvest Cards and one-or multi-day licenses can be turned in to most POS agents or at any ODFW office located throughout the state. The cards can also be mailed to any ODFW office or to ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302.

Steelhead angling remains tough, but the rain predicted for this week should help. Tenmile Creek has shown some improvement. While most anglers are using salmon roe or sand shrimp, an angler fishing the confluence of Eel and Tenmile creeks caught three hatchery steelhead in three casts last week while fishing a pink plastic worm below a bobber.

The warm temperatures last weekend allowed a number of anglers to make very good catches of largemouth bass at Tenmile Lakes.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

Eastern From our friend Tim Moran:

Crooked River –  The weather this past weekend on the Crooked was spectacular!  The river is a little low and very clear for this river.  Fishing is good with nymphs.  We caught most of our fish on size 18 red serendipity’s and a size 20 non-bead head sparkle pheasant tails.  Fish were in the seams and deeper tail-outs.  Rainbows ran 9 to 13″ and we got some big whitefish too!  There was a Blue Wing Olive hatch in the afternoon. We scored on size 22 emerging BWO’s to get our strikes.

Fall River – The Fall River is loaded with fish and some of the Rainbows are Steelhead size.  This is great for the potential of hooking big fish…the difficulty will be landing them as 6 and 7x tippet is required for this fishery most of the time.  Fishing near the hatchery and down below the falls was good this past weekend.  We sight cast’d to fish up near the hatchery and caught several on very small 20 to 22 sparkle pheasant tail nymphs.  We ditched the plastic ball indicators and went with a very small piece of tan yarn and some float-ant.    These fish are wary and see a lot of nymphs so leave the metal headed nymphs in the fly box and fish small and stealthy.

Colder weather returns to central and eastern Oregon next week so the fishing may be a bit more challenging.  Good luck to everyone who get’s out on the water this week!

SW Washington – Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br. downstream: 5 bank rods had no catch. Upstream from the I-5 Br: 19 bank and 1 boat rods had no catch.

Early hatchery steelhead returns to date. Kind of a mixed bag from the same time last year.

2018 hatchery returns vs. 2017 hatchery returns

Elochoman River – From Shane McEneny, WDFW Fish Hatchery Specialist 4 – This year’s return is coming back from a plant of only 65k smolts but is the first year since before 2009 that the fish were reared with predator netting and fencing. Numbers of returning adults have been phenomenal as we are close to 600 trapped for the season with anticipations of reaching 1,000. We are surplussing and recycling adults which we haven’t done for years and the fishing pressure has been enormous with a lot of happy fisherman. Next winter’s return will come back from a plant of almost double the smolts.

Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam – No effort was observed for steelhead.


Bonneville and The Dalles pools – Boat anglers are catching some legals. The Dalles Pool was the best with a legal kept per about every 3 rods.

Bass and Walleye

Bonneville Pool – No effort was observed for either specie.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers are doing well for walleye. No effort was observed for bass.

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