Willamette River Fishing Report –
Fishing on the lower Willamette has been a mostly rewarding experience, depending on what specie one is targeting. Sturgeon fishing has rarely disappointed with a similar experience shared by bass fishers. Sure, the springer bite hasn’t been red hot (or even lukewarm for the most part) but time is on our side in this case, as the best is yet to come. For one thing, water conditions will be good over the next several days, with clarity over six feet and the all-important water temperature topping 55 degrees. For the most part, spring Chinook have been crossing the Falls at a rate of 30-40 day with 90-some being counted on a couple of days since the first of the month. It was encouraging, then to see that 200 springers were counted on April 10thm the last date reporting. It remains to be seen if that number is the exception or the new rule as fish are on the move now. That they are on the move would also indicate and improvement for trollers and anchor fishers on the lower Willamette. Summer and winter steelhead have been counted at the Falls at similar rates daily although summers YTD total is about 500 while over 4,800 winter steelhead are now upstream.
McKenzie water conditions are excellent although, as with other valley rivers, the level is currently on the rise. This increase will be short-lived however, so angers can count on water levels gradually dropping over the coming weekend.
Showers this week will have only the slightest effect on the Santiam system which will be in decent condition and flow for the weekend to come. NOTICE: Due to unsafe conditions, Linn County Parks has temporarily closed the boat ramp at the Stayton-Scio bridge. No time frame has been provided as to its re-opening. More information at 541-967-3917. Serious navigation hazards also have been reported between Shelburn and Green’s Bridge boat ramps on the North Santiam. Boaters are advised not to use that stretch of river.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a free family fishing event Saturday, April 16 at St. Louis Ponds near Woodburn from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. To increase the chance for anglers to catch a fish, ODFW will stock Ponds 1, 3 and 6 with trout ranging from 8-inch “legals” to trophies weighing more than two pounds apiece. Participants who want to bring their own fishing gear are welcome to do so. However, loaner fishing rods and reels will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fishing tackle and bait will also be available. Experienced angling instructors will be on hand to answer questions and offer assistance.
The Guide’s Forecast – Lower Willamette spring Chinook, the only topic of interest this week it seems, has been slow. With conditions good, there’s no reason at which one could wag a finger for this lull. It’s definitely time to change tactics and cut-plug herring will get shelved for trolled herring. It’s worth noting, however, that anchor fishers sitting on plug, wrapped or not, are getting their share of take-downs and this week, prawn spinners have accounted for the most hookups. Multnomah Channel, the head of the Channel and the area pf the Toyota Dock have produced springers while St. Johns and Oregon City have been slow. But that could change completely by tomorrow. The sturgeon bite remains reliable, particularly around Swan Island. A fair number of steelhead are being hooked from the mouth of the Clackamas down to Meldrum Bar. Bass fishing, especially smallmouth, will be good until the spawn which will take place in a few weeks.
Trout fishing has been fair to good on the lower McKenzie this week and should continue to be productive barring heavy rainfall. March Browns are still hatching in modest number although trout have been responding well to spinners.
Expect the Santiams to be in good shape with steelhead present. On the North Santiam, steelheaders seek catch-and-release action with winter natives while summers are the target on the South Santiam where a few have been caught this week. Spoons, spinners, jigs and drifted roe are all effective here at times.